U.S. Manufacturing: Vibrant or on Life Support?

 

Are jobs losses over the past decade in U.S. manufacturing a sign of new levels of productivity?  Or do the losses indicate a serious loss of competitiveness?
 
It's a heated debate brewing among economists, according to a Washington Post article in today's paper.  Stirring the pot is a new study to be unveiled at ITIF this week, arguing that:
 
"the United States has not merely become more productive but is actually producing less. Unlike other comparable countries, American manufacturing is not restructuring but declining."
 
It's an argument ITIF's Rob Atkinson made to the MAPI Board of Trustees recently.  But, while the message may be dispiriting, unlike some economists (e.g., Paul Krugman, Christina Romer, Larry Summers), who don't see a need for a strong manufacturing base, Atkinson understands all too well the significant impact of a vibrant manufacturing sector on economic growth. 
 
He views his report as the equivalent of a hospital stat call -- complete with proposals to help stabilize and eventually revitalize the sector. 
 
The complete report will be unveiled on Wednesday.
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