Even so, we’re now manufacturing more and more stuff in the United States. It’s not that manufacturing left the U.S. Instead, the manufacturing jobs did.
How 600,000 jobs vanished
It may be a tough environment for those seeking work in the manufacturing industry. But those who already have a manufacturing job have it better than ever. In fact, the average manufacturing worker is working more hours per week than at any time since World War II:
Factories fear adding new workers
It’s curious that at a time manufacturing workers are working more, fewer factories are hiring. Since the bottom in manufacturing employment in 2010, factories have only added 500,000 workers — too few to keep work weeks at 40 hours.
There are plenty of reasons factories aren’t hiring. For one, manufacturers recognize the cyclicality of the industry — perhaps they’re not ready to hire if another recession may be around the corner. Secondly, manufacturing workers bring big fixed costs like pensions and medical benefits. To put it simply, paying overtime wages is less costly than adding new workers.
So, while we’re making more products in the United States, there’s something we’re not making: new manufacturing jobs. That trend is, unfortunately, probably here to stay.