The Resurgence in U.S. Manufacturing

Data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the U.S. ranked 7th among 19 countries in the increase in manufacturing output between 2009 and 2011.  Manufacturing output grew 16% in the past two years.  The highest growth in manufacturing occurred in Singapore and Taiwan.  Among European countries Sweden and the Czech Republic had the fastest growth in manufacturing.  Manufacturing output actually fell in the past two years in Australia and grew at the slowest rate in Denmark, Norway and France.

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The U.S. ranked 6th in worker productivity gains in the manufacturing sector between 2009 and 2011.   The five countries with the fastest productivity growth were the countries with the biggest growth in manufacturing output.  Australia was the only country where worker productivity fell.  Worker productivity grew at the smallest rate in Belgium, Canada and Norway.

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Manufacturing employment (measured by total worker hours) fell in 8 of the 19 countries reported by the BLS.  Manufacturing employment grew by 2.2% in the U.S. between 2009 and 2011 and that was enough to rank 6th.  The fastest growth in total employment in manufacturing occurred in Taiwan, Germany and South Korea.

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In summary, the U.S. has ranked near the top of developed countries in manufacturing growth between 2009 and 2011.  The growth in manufacturing since 2009 in the developed world has been fueled primarily by productivity gains rather than by increases in manufacturing employment.  Output, employment and productivity in manufacturing has grown more rapidly in Asian countries such as Taiwan and South Korea than in Europe.  Australia has lagged other developed countries in terms of manufacturing growth since 2009.

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