Manufacturing: Still Waiting for a True Recovery

The January 2011 jobs report contained some good news for U.S. manufacturing: 49,000 manufacturing jobs were added that month, the highest monthly gain since August, 1997.  From January 2010 through January 2011, the United States added a total of 152,000 manufacturing jobs at an average rate of 11,800 per month.  The was the first yearly gain in manufacturing jobs since 1998. 

Unfortunately, as the following graphs show, it’s far too early to begin celebrating.  In fact, at the current rate it will take more than 40 years to regain the industrial jobs lost since January of 2000.

In the preceding decade, from January of 2000 to December of 2009, the U.S. lost 5,836,000 manufacturing jobs, an average of 54,000 per month.  When we combine the two graphs, we see a slight uptick at the end, but not much of an increase

If we continue to create jobs at a rate of 11,800 per month, it will take over 40 years to get back to the employment level we saw in January of 2000.  There’s a long way to go, and we need to adopt a national manufacturing strategy to help regain these jobs.

You can see, comparing jobs lost vs. jobs gained, that serious changes are needed to rebuild our manufacturing base.  152,000 is a good start, but its only 2.6% of the jobs we've lost over the previous decade.