October 2 Is Manufacturing Day: Recognizing America's World-Class Manufacturing Sector And Factory Workers

Oct. 02, 2015 3:07 AM ET1 Comment
Mark J. Perry profile picture
Mark J. Perry
939 Followers

Manufacturing Day occurs annually on the first Friday of October (October 2 this year) and according to its sponsors "MFG DAY" is a "celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers." To recognize Manufacturing Day this year, I've prepared a series of charts and facts about America's manufacturing sector below.

mfg1

1. US Manufacturing Output vs. Employment. The chart above shows annual measures of US manufacturing output (based on the BEA's GDP by Industry data here) and US manufacturing employment (based on BLS data here) from 1947 to 2014. In inflation-adjusted constant 2014 dollars, US manufacturing output has increased more than five-fold over the last 67 years, from $410 billion in 1947 to a record-setting level of output last year of $2.09 trillion (see brown line in chart). Although we frequently hear claims that the US manufacturing sector is dying or in a state of decline, manufacturing output in the US, except during and following periods of economic contraction like the Great Recession, has continued to increase over time, and reached the highest level of output ever recorded in 2014.

What has been in a steady state of decline is the number of manufacturing workers needed to produce the increasing amount of manufacturing output as the blue line in the chart above shows. From a peak of nearly 19.5 million US factory workers in 1979, the number of manufacturing employees has steadily declined to a recent low in 2010 of 11.6 million workers before rebounding to slightly more than 12 million employees last year.

Comment: The ability of the US manufacturing sector to produce increasing amounts of output with fewer and fewer workers should be recognized as a sign of economic strength and vitality, not economic weakness. Thanks to advances in technology, the factory floor today is one with modern, advanced, state-of-the-art

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Mark J. Perry profile picture
939 Followers
Dr. Mark J. Perry is a full professor of economics at the Flint campus of The University of Michigan, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in economics and finance since 1996. Starting in the fall of 2009, Perry has also held a joint appointment as a scholar at The American Enterprise Institute. Perry holds two graduate degrees in economics (M.A. and Ph.D.) from George Mason University and in addition, and has an MBA degree in finance from The University of Minnesota. In addition to an active scholarly research agenda, Perry enjoys writing op-eds for a general audience on current economic issues and his opinion pieces have appeared in most major newspapers around the country, including USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Investor’s Business Daily, The Hill, Washington Examiner, Dallas Morning News, Sacramento Bee, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, Miami Herald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and many others. Mark Perry has been best known in recent years as the creator and editor of one of the nation’s most popular economics blogs, Carpe Diem. Professor Perry has written on a daily basis since the fall of 2006 to share his thoughts, opinions and expertise on economic issues, with a strong emphasis on displaying economic data in a visually appealing way using graphs, charts and tables.

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