Manufacturing Lost Millions of Jobs, But How Did It Get There?

Kathryn Casteel

Developed countries all over the world have transitioned away from production and manufacturing for decades. The U.S. in particular shed over 5 million jobs in the manufacturing sector since the turn of the century as a result of various trade policies and advancement in technology.

The nostalgia of a once thriving industry haunts present day policy makers. Presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican, have announced plans and promises to bring manufacturing jobs back to American soil.

Some economists and policy experts argue the investment in manufacturing isn’t worth the effort, while others praise it.

But what exactly contributed to the decline in the U.S. get here and what are the options going forward?


Follow the timeline below that maps out factors that effected manufacturing jobs and the overall industry since the beginning of 2000.


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What is the picture for the future?

One of the greatest concerns of the declining manufacturing industry is the loss of higher waged jobs that are available to Americans with less education. For this reason, economists like Bowsworth are adament about the investment in education and training programs to improve the overall employment situation in the U.S., rather than focus on rebuilding the once-thriving manfacturing industry.

However, Scott stands by the advantages of a strong manufacturing sector in the U.S.

"What’s the purpose of investing in education is if you`re not investing in job creation?" said Scott. "There`s only so much money you can pump into the economy before it becomes pointless, the same can be applied to education."

Scott says the future of the manufacturing industry is vital to the U.S. economy, and can be stimulated through rebuilding the country`s infrastructure, as well as investing in renewable energy. But the main policy move the government should be making is dismantling currency manipulation problems with major U.S. trade partners.

Right now the future of the manufacturing industry is about as unpredictable as the current Presidential election. One thing is practially concrete for the fate of the industry. Regardless of potentnial efforts, economists don`t see the replacement of 5 million manufacturing jobs as part of the picture.