Fortune brings to attention this report by Deloitte, noting that its 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index shows that the United States is a manufacturing powerhouse second only to China, and on course of becoming first by the year 2020. Above, a screenshot from the report showing the top ten countries in competitive manufacturing. To my surprise, Canada is on that list.
So why has the United States been shooting up the ranks? Long gone are the days when cheap labor was the most important input for manufacturers. Total manufacturing employment in China peaked during the 1990s and has been falling ever since. And as manufacturing continues to reduce the number of workers needed, the important ingredients to success in the sector are whether advanced technologies and materials are available, and whether or not intellectual property protections are strong. The United States beats out China on both of these scores.
This is not to say that anxiety over the decline of manufacturing employment is misguided. While it's good that manufacturing firms think that the United States is a great place to do business, their success in America will not have the same impact, in terms of providing a huge number of well-paying jobs, as they did a half-century ago.
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