How to Save U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

By Howard Wial @CNNMoney February 23, 2012: 5:34 AM ET

Howard Wial is a fellow for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

At first glance, manufacturing jobs would appear to be a dying breed.

The United States lost 6 million manufacturing jobs between early 2001 and late 2009. And despite small gains during the last two years, the trend in manufacturing employment for the last 30 years has been downward.

That has led some to argue that long-term job loss in the industry is inevitable. But our research shows otherwise.

There are two common versions of the “inevitability” argument. One holds that U.S. manufacturing wages are too high to be internationally competitive. The other maintains that manufacturing job losses are the result of productivity growth. Both arguments are wrong. Read more of this post

Made in the USA… and China: Why the new paradigm will be to manufacture in both China and America. And Southern U.S. states will win big on jobs.

If I had told you in the summer of 2009 that America’s long-suffering manufacturing industries would lead the lackluster recovery from the Great Recession, you probably would have wondered what I was reading—or smoking.

I would have been correct, however. As a June 1 report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) noted, May 2011 marked the 22nd consecutive month in which U.S. manufacturing expanded. Exports have driven much of the growth. Last year, for example, U.S. exports increased more than 20 percent, according to the Census Bureau, and some 85 percent of those exports were manufactured goods.

It comes as no surprise that manufacturing employment also is on the rise, with related jobs increasing last year for the first time since 1997.

The good news about U.S. manufacturing is no fluke. For reasons I will explain below, the manufacturing renaissance should continue for years to come. Read more of this post

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