FOR THE RECORD: Is losing manufacturing jobs inevitable?

If so, why have other developed countries, with high wages and developed safety nets, lost far fewer than the US?

This study, from the Brookings Institute in DC, argues that manufacturing job loss is not inevitable, but requires an industrial policy that the US lacks.

The US lost 41 percent of its manufacturing jobs to overseas between 1979 and 2009, according to the Brookings authors.

Other developed countries — Canada and Germany, principally — lost far fewer, though with higher wages and, I’d suspect, higher taxes. Manufacturing allows Germany a trade surplus, they argue.

They argue also that manufacturing jobs are crucial to a country’s continuing to innovate, a crucial thing in the 21st Century economy. Keeping manufacturing here allows the kind of nuts and bolts experience with production processes that leads to innovation. A similar and compelling argument is also made by Thomas Friedman, whose work and approach I greatly admire, in his new book, That Used To Be Us.

All very interesting stuff, I find.


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