NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Has the U.S. Manufacturing Sector Fared Since the Recession?

February 10, 2015

While the media has given the American manufacturing industry much of the credit for the U.S. recovery following the Great Recession, the praise is overblown, contends Thomas Hemphill, NCPA senior fellow, and Mark Perry, scholar with the American Enterprise Institute.

While Hemphill and Perry say the manufacturing industry has undoubtedly added jobs and contributed to GDP since 2010, such gains are dwarfed by the losses that took place prior to the recession. For example:

  • In January 1998, 17.6 million Americans were working in manufacturing.  By January 2010, that figure was just 11.4 million -- a 35 percent drop in manufacturing jobs.
  • From 2005 to 2009, the United States lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs.
  • From 2010 to 2014, the United States added 762,000 new manufacturing jobs.

To put it another way, Hemphill and Perry say that the country recovered only 27 percent of the manufacturing jobs that were lost from 2005 to 2009, and there are 1.4 million fewer workers in factories today than there were in December 2007.

The authors note that in September 2012, President Obama announced a goal to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2016, but at the current rate of growth, that figure will be just 560,000 -- 440,000 jobs short of the president's goal.

Source: Thomas Hemphill and Mark Perry, "Putting U.S. Manufacturing Growth in Perspective," Real Clear Markets, February 9, 2015.


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