No, U.S. Manufacturing Isn't Really Booming:…[Is]American manufacturing .. in decline? An answer frequently offered by wonky economics journalists is that, no, U.S. manufacturing output has actually kept growing. …
There's a catch, though. As economist Susan N. Houseman of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research … points out, about half of the growth in U.S. manufacturing output since 1997 has been in just one sector: computer and electronics manufacturing.
If it weren't for computers and electronics (which includes semiconductors), manufacturing output would still be well below its 2008 peak and only 21 percent higher than in 1997…
The … way those computers-and-electronics numbers are arrived at is worthy of a closer look. … Without adjusting for deflation, value added in computer and electronics manufacturing is up 45 percent since 1997. With the adjustments, it's up 699 percent! What's happening here is that the Bureau of Economic Analysis has been trying to account for vast improvements in … quality… Writes Houseman:
Such quality adjustment … can make the numbers difficult to interpret…, figures that exclude this industry … arguably provide a clearer picture of trends in manufacturing output.
As it stands now, those trends don't look impressive. U.S. manufacturing output has held up a lot better than manufacturing employment. But it definitely isn't booming.