Why do we have fewer Americans in the factories today? Is the current increase in factory jobs likely to be sustained? The fact that there are fewer people employed in the factories than was the case in the 70s does not imply that American manufacturing has been on the decline. On the contrary, the manufacturing sector has continued to grow over the years (except during some depressing periods such as the sub-prime crisis) but men have continued to lose jobs to robots. For this reason too, it is unlikely that the manufacturing sector will create jobs the way it did in the 70s.
Reason for optimism
While the jobs created might never reach what they were in the good old days, there is certainly reason for optimism. The government has the ability to increase the number of manufacturing jobs available and it could if it went ahead with its plans to increase its spending on major infrastructural projects. The government’s desire to undertake tax reforms could also provide the spur that the manufacturing sector needs.
How the present compares with the past
The 20 million people employed by the manufacturing sector in the 1970s represented 22% of the entire workforce in the US. Today, only 8% of people are employed in this sector. During the crisis of 2009, only 11.5 million people were employed by the manufacturing sector. And despite the recent positive signs, the number of people making a living from manufacturing is.