Washington Post: Is U.S. Manufacturing Making a Comeback?
Is manufacturing coming back in America?
Economists and academics remain divided about a manufacturing resurgence.
In an article in today’s Washington Post, Brad Plumer looks at the changes in production due to lower energy costs:
Besides the shrinking wage gap between China and the United States, the productivity of the American worker keeps rising. And the surge in shale gas drilling gives the United States a wealth of cheap domestic energy to bolster industries such as petrochemicals.
All that could combine to make U.S. factories more competitive in the years ahead, not just with Europe and Japan, but with the manufacturing behemoth in China. This shift likely won’t mean the United States will have 19 million manufacturing workers again, the way it did in the 1980s. For one thing, automation is still a powerful force. And the types of jobs that come back will be different from the ones that vanished. Still, any significant uptick in domestic manufacturing after a decades-long decline could bolster the economy and spur innovation.
“I think it’s fair to say this hasn’t all registered in the data just yet,” says Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “But we’re starting to lay the groundwork where we’ll start to see a real effect three to 10 years from now.”
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