Cato's Daniel Ikenson follows up on his own thesis about the allegedly-surprisingly-vital state of American industry with a mention of Peter Goodman's recent article, which provided a case study in the same phenomenon.
The United States makes more manufactured goods today than at any time in history, as measured by the dollar value of production adjusted for inflation — three times as much as in the mid-1950s, the supposed heyday of American industry. Between 1977 and 2005, the value of American manufacturing swelled from $1.3 trillion to an all-time record $4.5 trillion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.Ikenson offers his own thoughts on the implications of this "metamorphosis" in American manufacturing:
With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States is responsible for almost one-fourth of global manufacturing, a share that has changed little in decades. The United States is the largest manufacturing economy by far.
During the most recent decade, U.S. manufacturing has become increasingly oriented toward the middle and upper ends of the value-added spectrum. Opportunities abound for workers with skills or the willingness and wherewithal to acquire them. In fact, the title of the National Association of Manufacturers tenth annual Labor Day Report on the state of U.S. manufacturing is “Rising Incomes Cushion Economy,” and its subtitle is “Finding Highly Skilled Workers Remains a Challenge for Manufacturers.” It seems to me that rising wages should make more workers willing to get the skills, and the need to find highly-skilled workers should induce manufacturers to assist on the wherewithal front.The story about the current economy continues to be the disconnect between the optimists and the pessimists: the former seem completely unable to understand the latter, even though pessimism about the economy is the lived experience of most Americans.