The U.S. manufacturing sector is very large and diverse, and we must take this into account if we are to make a serious inquiry into what is going on in this part of the economy. The North American Classification System (“NAICS”) divides the manufacturing sector into twenty-one industry groups. We have consolidated these into ten groups (some with only one industry), each having similar characteristics. We consider employment during the time period 1990-2014, partly because data before 1990 are not readily available. However, that time period is useful in that it follows the manufacturing sector through the three recessions of 1990-91, 2000-2001, and 2008-2009 and their aftermaths.
Each industry follows its own variant of the overall path of employment in the industry shown in the figure titled U.S. Employment in Manufacturing 1979-2014, above. Some industries, such as apparel, textiles, and electronics, were already in decline when the 1990-91 recession hit in July of 1990. For these industries, peak employment occurred during the first half of 1990 (typically the month of January); they then were caught in three repetitions of the cycle of employment declines with inadequate recovery, each time hitting a new low, from which they have made only a modest, if any, recovery since 2009.
Other industries recovered from the 1990-91 recession and rode the 1990s economic expansion up to a new high of employment in 2000. This peak is followed by a disastrous fall-off beginning after 2000, coincident with the 2001 recession and the granting of permanent most favored nation status and WTO membership to China. This drop is followed by a pause or shallower fall-off during 2003-2008, and is followed by another disastrous fall-off beginning with the start of the Great Recession in 2008. After this “double dip” effect, we see a general bottoming out, followed by a true “flat line” (to borrow a medical term) for a number of industries, and modest recovery for others. At the end of the day, all industries remain well below their 1990 level, and far below their 2000 level. And the effect is worse than the graphs suggest, because the population was growing during this time.
What is startling is the breadth of these losses, across industries and geographies. Within our ten industry groupings, there are twenty-one industry subsectors, each having within them a number of discreet, viable, and important industries. Each industry has its own sad tale to tell.
Let us take a closer look, industry by industry.
Go to Group 1.
May 15, 2014, Ontario, CA - MIAA's founder, Jim Stuber, delivered the keynote address at the 20th annual World Trade Conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the California Inland Empire District Export Council in Ontario, California. To view the conference agenda, click here:
May 7, 2015, Radnor, PA. MIAA's founder, Jim Stuber, appeared as the guest of host Richard J. Anthony, Sr. on The Entrepreneur's Network TV at Radnor Studio 21. The program featured a discussion of the problems caused by offshoring manufacturing and white collar jobs and how consmers can solve the problem with their spending decisions.
Studio 21 has made the program available for viewing here: