During a Thanksgiving dinner discussion, one friend expressed concern that we just don’t make things anymore.
This is my reply…
We manufacture more than ever before:
And these are the numbers for 2014 of durable and nondurable goods production. You can see that food, beverage and tobacco goods represent the highest numbers while petroleum and coal products are #2 and chemical products, #3.
Gross Output in Billions of Dollars 2014
Manufacturing is a top employer in selected states:
And, manufacturing propelled economic growth during 3 recent quarters:
The number of manufacturing jobs has plummeted:
And we hear so much about the manufactured goods we import from China:
Our Bottom Line: Confirmation Bias
So, why do many of us believe we do not make things anymore?
Behavioral economists tell us that we can use information selectively to confirm what we suspect is true. I wonder if headlines about job losses and Chinese imports create a confirmation bias about the dire state of manufacturing.
Instead we just need to return to what fractal mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot said about the British coastline. Yes, from afar we see the big picture of a smooth curving line. But look more closely at the coast (or U.S. manufacturing) and you see all of its complexities.