It’s no surprise that the manufacturing industry in the United States has declined greatly since the dawn of the Great Recession. Back in December of 2011, though, many thought that the manufacturing industry was on the edge of its revival since many more jobs were returning. In fact, back in December U.S. manufacturing was faring much better than any of the other developed countries. However, reports are now showing that manufacturing has declined more in the past decade than it did during the Great Depression in the ’30s.
An article in the Huffington Post discussed this decline and how our loss compares to the Great Depression in the 1930’s. If you take a look at the manufacturing loss we suffered in the ’30s and compare it to the loss we are suffering now, it doesn’t seem so bad. Back then we lost 30.9 percent of our manufacturing jobs. Today, we face a loss of 33.1 percent. Not bad, right? Wrong. Back in the 1930s, manufacturing accounted for 34 percent of all jobs in the U.S. and 43 percent of the total jobs lost. Today, manufacturing only represents 11 percent of our total jobs but accounts for nearly one-third of the total jobs lost. If you break down that loss in numbers, we faced a 5.7 million loss in manufacturing jobs due to the Great Recession.
To make the manufacturing loss even more clear, a report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation states that, “in January 2012 there were more unemployed Americans (12.8 million) than there were Americans who worked in manufacturing (just under 12 million).” That comparison is difficult to take in, but the fact of the matter is that is the reality we are living in right now. When reports late last year surfaced of how well the industry was doing, the jobs gained actually weren’t very significant at all. The report states that just 166,000, or 8.2 percent of the jobs lost had returned. That shows how much improvement we still have to make in order to return to pre-recession levels.
Although the facts may be a bit hard to swallow, it’s always great to know the truth and to fully understand the situation we are in. It is true that as we have shifted to a more industrialized society and country that manufacturing will naturally decline, but in order to keep up with this it should not decline altogether. Instead, manufacturing should keep up with the pace of advancement and should transform “their industrial bases toward more complex, higher-value-added production,” according to the report.
It is the hope of many, especially Post writer Michelle Nash-Hoff, that experts will focus on the reality of the situation and publicize that rather than give candy-coated reports on how manufacturing is improving lately. It may be improving, but compared to where we were in 2007, there is still much work that needs to be done. Without understanding the reality of the situation here, how can we improve it?
What do you make of this? Do you think that what experts and reporters choose to write about and how they choose to write it largely effects the way we view the world and our situation?