Skip to content


Washington Post: Five False Myths about U.S. Manufacturing

American TractorRecently, the Washington Post ran an article about misconceptions regarding U.S. manufacturing. The article followed President Obama’s State of the Union address in which he stated that creating manufacturing jobs is the nation’s first priority. We wanted to share the article’s points with you and offer our own thoughts on this important issue.

Here are five common myths about U.S. manufacturing, and why they’re false:

1. Myth: Manufacturing is no longer a way into the middle class

Fact: Although America’s manufacturing peaked at 19.6 million jobs in 1979 and today there are just over 11 million jobs in manufacturing, these jobs still pay well. Ro Khana, who penned the Washington Post article, says that on average a full-time manufacturing job pays 20 percent more than a full-time service-sector job. Additionally, Khana mentioned his travels throughout the United States where he met electronic technicians in manufacturing fields who had risen in manufacturing companies to earn more than $100,000 a year despite only having a high school degree. And many of these jobs are open right now, with more on the way.

2. Myth: We can outsource manufacturing work as long as the product stays in the United States

Fact: This belief can be a detriment to innovation. Don’t take our word for it. Andy Grove, former chief executive of Intel, argues that the strongest innovation takes place when design teams and production teams are integrated. Using this system, product designers get feedback about practical constraints involving manufacturing and can quickly adapt designs. Although Apple is promising to invest $100 million to U.S. manufacturing plants, it has always done the bulk of its prototyping in the United States. Although it mass-produces iPhones in China now, Apple has always worked with its U.S. factories to perfect productions prior to product launches.

3. Myth: U.S. manufacturing can’t compete with China.

Fact: Manufacturing in the U.S. will compete with China. Offshoring is continually being found to be an unprofitable business model for U.S. companies. As the benefits of keeping manufacturing in the United States continue to develop, manufacturing jobs will stay here. According to the Washington Post, the United States is on par with China’s manufacturing output, and “China and the United States each produce about one-fifth of the world’s manufacturing, yet we do so with only about 10 percent of our economy devoted to that sector, compared with nearly 40 percent of the Chinese economy.” How are we able to do this? We’re able to compete because U.S. manufacturing workers are nearly six times as productive as Chinese workers. U.S. manufacturing workers beat workers in Japan and Germany as far as productivity 11 to 2.

4. Myth: Manufacturing jobs require repetition and low skill.

Fact: Maybe in 1900. Today’s U.S. manufacturing plants are technologically advanced and require smart workers to work smart machines. Math aptitude and the ability to think of innovative ways to enhance productivity are often essential skills for today’s U.S. manufacturers.

5. Myth: The U.S. government is bad at supporting manufacturing.

Fact: President Obama just said that creating U.S. manufacturing jobs is a “top priority.”  The U.S. government has a long history of aiding and supporting manufacturing in the United States. America’s free-enterprise system enables our manufacturers to be the most innovative, and it’s this innovation that allows us to compete globally.

And looking to instances like the report from the National Governor’s Association, and it’s easy to see that manufacturing is supported on a state level, not just nationally, as well.

photo credit: Old Shoe Woman via photopin cc

Posted in Blog.

Tagged with , , , , .

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.