Since the end of the recession manufacturing has added less than one percent of new jobs. In contrast, in the recessions in 1969, 1974, and early '80s, when after 29 months manufacturing added 6.6 and eight percent of new jobs, respectively.
The first week of 2012 saw an announcement that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent coincided with recent reports that manufacturing activity has picked up. But don't assume we are headed for smooth sailing. While good news about manufacturing is welcome, it is unwise to jump to conclusions. We have lost more manufacturing jobs in the last ten years than we lost in the Great Depression so we have no where to go but up. But we are not going up in very impressive strides. More importantly, we have yet to make the policy changes needed to revive manufacturing and enhance U.S. competiveness in this sector. Until we do, we will likely continue to deceive ourselves that occasional positive data is an actual turnaournd in U.S. innovation and competitiveness.