Manufacturing Makes a Comeback

A new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program documents the rise in manufacturing employment during the recovery. Motoko Rich parses the findings, their geographical implications, and whether a long-term turnaround is in the cards.
May 10, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While the uptick in manufacturing jobs can be felt in regions (largely metropolitan) across the country, with a total of 489,000 jobs added since the beginning of 2010, the findings of the new Brookings report may sound especially good to those in the South and Midwest, notes Rich.
"Southern regions remain relatively strong in manufacturing, with eight metropolitan areas on that list. But the usual narrative of an inexorably declining Rust Belt seems not quite accurate – or at least for now. 'It's possible that this bounce-back is just a bounce-back and won't last,' said Howard Wial, an economist and fellow at the Brookings Institution who was one of the authors of the report. 'But there is an opportunity for it to be more.'"
At Next American City, Matt Bevilacqua expands on the last point, and the prospects for long-term growth.
"Perhaps the study's most lasting implication is that manufacturers have increasingly fewer reasons to outsource their operations to foreign countries. Though labor costs in China still remain well below those in the U.S., they've been rising more rapidly than ever in recent years. Add that to transportation costs and the fact that the Chinese yuan has risen in value, and manufacturers have a pretty convincing case to think twice before following in Apple's footsteps."

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Published on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 in The New York Times
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