Recent downsizing among American automakers raises the broader question: how has American manufacturing been faring in recent years? Answer: Badly. In terms of both employment and wages, it’s been tough going for most workers in the sector.
Employment in the sector cratered during the last recession and following jobless recovery and has failed to recover since. Further, while manufacturing productivity has been particularly strong in recent years, real wages of blue-collar workers in this sector have declined steeply.
While we should expect manufacturing jobs to decline as a share of all jobs (mostly because productivity growth runs faster in manufacturing than in other sectors), the level of manufacturing employment in August 2006 (14.2 million) is near lows not seen since the 1950s. Read the report from EPI here.