The numbers posted at Investors Business Daily over the weekend by John Merline were impressive: U.S. manufacturing profits last year exceeded $600 billion, almost tripling since the bottom of the recession, while jobs in manufacturing have increased by 400,000 in the past two years. Unemployment in manufacturing has been below the national average for eight straight months, and the industry itself has been growing at three times the rate of the overall economy.
More jobs. Higher profits. Lower unemployment. Faster growth. All good. Economist Mark Perry is on board with the new robust sector: “By all relevant measures of economic performance…American manufacturing remains the shining star of the U.S. economy.” And this is taking place right under the noses of politicians who are decrying the perceived woes in manufacturing, such as Rick Santorum, who said:
We went from about 21% of jobs in this country when I was a kid being in manufacturing down to 9%. We lost those jobs overseas. We need to bring them back.
He may be right about the numbers but wrong about being worried about them. Manufacturing lost 7 million jobs since its peak in 1979 but the productivity of the workers remaining has improved enormously. According to Joshua Feinman, chief global economist at DB Advisors, “Productivity has grown much faster in manufacturing than in the economy as a whole.” In fact, despite the loss of jobs manufacturing output has tripled in this country since 1980 and the United States remains the largest