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Manufacturing is growing, even when manufacturing jobs are not


The role of manufacturing in the U.S. economy is often discussed. As shown in the FRED graph above, as a year-over-year percent change, the level of manufacturing has generally grown. (One striking exception is during the recent recession.) The number of employees working in manufacturing is a different story, however. It has sometimes grown, but it has nearly always grown less than the growth in manufacturing. This suggests that growth in manufacturing does not equal growth in manufacturing jobs. What’s the explanation? A prime candidate is productivity growth. Another is that the sectoral mix has shifted toward industries with higher value added, such as computers and electronics. (See this previous FRED Blog post for more on this subject.)

How this graph was created: Search for “Industrial Production: Manufacturing” and “Manufacturing Employees” and add the series to the graph. Then convert both series to “Percent change from a year ago.” Finally, restrict the sample to a time period when both series are available.

Suggested by Katrina Stierholz

View on FRED, series used in this post: IPMAN, MANEMP


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