Manufacturing Isn’t Dead, It’s Evolving

President Donald Trump’s newly released National Security Strategy emphasizes economic competition. Beyond tax cuts, an actual economic strategy is needed. The administration should focus on technical-career education and expand upon Obama era initiatives to revitalize manufacturing, a foundation of great power nations since the 19th century.

In “How Rich Countries Get Rich…and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor,” the Norwegian economist Erik Reinert explains how nations acquire wealth through manufacturing, which creates economies of scale and increased productivity. Without a strong manufacturing base, sustaining widespread economic growth is unlikely. But the industry is rapidly changing.

From 2000 to 2010, manufacturing shredded one-third of jobs due to automation, offshoring and global competition. There has been a moderate resurgence in domestic manufacturing since the Great Recession, and rising labor costs overseas mean that companies may be less inclined to move offshore. But to take advantage of these trends, the focus must be on the future instead of nostalgia for 1960s-style assembly lines, according to a recent McKinsey report.

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