Employment in manufacturing peaked in the U.S. in June 1979, at almost 19.6 million jobs. This September, that was down to 12.3 million (these numbers are seasonally adjusted).
That fall in employment tells us a lot about today’s American political and economic life. It helps explain why regions that were heavily reliant on manufacturing have been struggling so much, why older Americans without college degrees are so cranky, why labor unions are so weak. But does it mean that American manufacturing is in decline?
An answer frequently offered by wonky economics journalists is that, no, U.S. manufacturing output has actually kept […]