E Can The Biden Administration Really Restore US Manufacturing Jobs?

“Overall, the U.S. has suffered a net loss of more than 91,000 manufacturing plants and nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs since 1997. Nearly 1,800 factories have disappeared during the Trump administration between 2016 and 2018 (BLS 2020; U.S. Census Bureau 2020a, 2020b). The U.S. has experienced a net loss of manufacturing plants (establishments) in every year from 1998 through 2018 (the most recent year for which data are available).” (Economic Policy Institute, August 10, 2020)

One of the most interesting paradoxes of the last several decades is how the American economy has continued to prosper in the face of a major loss of high-paying manufacturing jobs to China and other low-wage countries.

Indeed, manufacturing employment in the US has collapsed over the past several decades, though the same is not the case with manufacturing production or output. Obviously, manufacturing productivity has continued to increase, and of course, even with fewer employees manufacturing output has continued to grow.

Offshoring, the loss of manufacturing plants, and the massive trade deficit with China are of course symptoms of the loss of manufacturing jobs.  

American manufacturing is simply no longer a major job creation engine. In more normal times (excluding the pandemic recession), manufacturing job losses have been more than made up by job gains in other sectors (high tech industries and the services sector.)

But of course, for many local communities which used to rely on have high-paying, manufacturing jobs, the longer-term job losses are very harmful.

Unfortunately, many serious economic and social hardships can be traced to the longer-term loss of manufacturing jobs.

A review of the following charts helps to spell out some of the dimensions of this issue and underscore why even under the welcoming Biden Administration manufacturing jobs are likely not to return.

At first glance, the long-term drop-in manufacturing jobs seem to paint a bleak picture for the health of the manufacturing sector.

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William K. 3 weeks ago Member's comment

Why is manufacturing important? actually, the answer is obvious: without manufacturing you have no goods to sell. They must be manufactured somewhere, by somebody, even if half the team is robots.

The problem now is that there is such a huge divide between income classes that fewer want to work in manufacturing. The problem is not that manufacturing does not pay well, it is that some other employments pay excessively well.

Do I HAVE AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM? NO, I do not have an acceptable answer. The anwer that I do have is unhappy enough to be unacceptable. Oh WEll.