Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No Growth in Private Sector in 10 Years... Manufacturing in Almost 70 Years

The Big Picture details:

Speaking with Marketwatch’s Rex Nutting, I learned yet another incredible datapoint: Over the past decade, the U.S. private-sector has lost 203,000 jobs.

That’s right: Zero job growth for 10 years.
No surprise to EconomPic readers, as I reported this same stat back in May. But, in looking at the details behind this tremendous job stall, it is apparent where the majority of the jobs lost have come from... manufacturing.

That's right. The manufacturing sector now utilizes 35% less man-hours than it did just 10 years ago. Sound bad? It's a LOT worse than that.

We are now at the lowest level of manufacturing employment since... 1941 (even though the number of overall workforce is up just about four-fold in that time).

Manufacturing Employment

10 Year Rolling Change in Manufacturing Employment

Source: BLS


  1. Some will argue that this is a sign of exceptional productivity increases in the manufacturing sector. It would be good to see how other industrialized nations fared. This comparison should provide some perspective on whether it was better technology or de-industrialization that's driving these figures.

    I suspect most others have maintained absolute manufacturing employment due to increases in population and women work participation.

  2. The majority of the manufacturing jobs lost have occurred in the past 2 years. I don't think anyone can argue that all the productivity gains have occurred in this time.

    That said, it would be interesting to see ALL the manufacturing jobs globally over the past 60 years. My guess is that the China's of the world have seen an explosion regardless of the new productivity gains.

  3. simple comparison needed--ratio of manufacturing employment to manufacturing output/ and manufacturing output as a % of US GDP.

  4. You can get data on output from the Fed here:


    I would guess a lot of productivity gains historically, with off-shoring more recently. Probably hard to sort it out really clearly though...