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Must-Read: Rex Nutting: Manufacturing Output Has Doubled in Three Decades:

The number of jobs in the manufacturing sector has declined by about 5 million since 2000, falling from 17.3 million at the turn of the century to 12.3 million in 2015... only 8.7%....

Retail, health care, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality services now employ more workers than manufacturing does....

[But] gross output of U.S. manufacturing industries--counting products produced for final use as well as those used as intermediate inputs--totaled $6.2 trillion in 2015, about 36% of U.S. gross domestic product, nearly double the output of any of the other big sectors: professional and business services, government and real estate.... Manufacturing companies also account for about 77% of what the private sector spends on research and development each year. If it weren’t for manufacturing, there would be very little innovation in the United States.... Today, U.S. factories produce twice as much stuff as they did in 1984, but with one-third fewer workers....

The output of durable goods was at an all-time high in 2015, more than triple what it was in 1980 and double what it was 20 years earlier. The production of electronics, aerospace goods, motor vehicles and machinery are at or close to all-time highs. On the other hand, the production of nondurable goods is still down 7% from the peak.... The output of the chemicals, paper and printing industries are all off significantly from the pre-recession peak. And, of course, other industries have nearly disappeared. The output of the apparel industries is down more than 80% since the heydays in the 1980s, while the output of textile mills is down about 50% since 2000. Those are the factories and jobs that are really gone for good....

Refined petroleum products... are America’s top manufactured product, with a value of shipments going out the factory door of nearly $700 billion in 2014, more than four times as much as the No. 2 product: light trucks. America’s other top manufactured products are pharmaceuticals, airplanes and automobiles. Rounding out the top 10 are iron and steel, animal slaughtering, plastics, organic chemicals and petrochemicals...

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