Made in the USA

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In Economics as in apparel, most fashions come and go. But like the navy blazer or the little black dress, bewailing the decline of American manufacturing never seems to go out of style.

"You know, we don’t manufacture anything anymore in this country. We do health care; we do lots of different services. But... everything is made in China, for the most part." - Donald Trump

In a recent poll, only one in five Americans believe that the US has the world’s strongest economy, versus half who think China is in the lead. Nowadays everything seems to be made in China and, after all, they do have a population over 1.3 billion and growing.

There’s just one problem with all the gloom and doom about American manufacturing. It’s wrong.

Americans make more ‘’stuff’’ than any other nation on earth, and by a wide margin too. According to a UN database, America’s manufacturing output in 2009 was $2.15 trillion. That surpassed China’s output of $1.48 trillion by nearly 46 percent! In fact, Americans manufactured more goods in 2009 than the Japanese, Germans, British, and Italians…combined. Here is another astonishing fact: the US still accounted for 20 percent of the world’s manufacturing output in 2009 – only a hair below its 1990 share of 21 percent.

The decline, demise, and death of America’s manufacturing sector has been greatly exaggerated. A vast amount of ‘’stuff’’ is still made in the USA, albeit not the inexpensive consumer goods that fill the shelves in Target or Walmart. American factories make fighter jets, air conditioners, automobiles and semiconductors. Not the sort of things on your weekly shopping list? Maybe not. But that doesn’t change the economic reality: America’s manufacturing glory is far from a thing of the past.

Source: Made in the USA – by Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe, published 2/6/2011. To view the text in its entirety, please follow this link:

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