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Helping the WSJ Out Regarding Manufacturing Jobs August 25, 2013

Posted by geoff in News.
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The Wall Street Journal almost got the manufacturing jobs situation right:

22%: The share of U.S. manufacturing jobs lost during the recent downturn that has been regained during the recovery.

American manufacturing was creamed in the recession. From December 2007 to December 2009, factories shed nearly 2.3 million jobs, or 16.5% of the sector’s total.

The manufacturing sector is digging its way out of its hole. … Since December of 2009, factories have added 504,000 jobs—a tidy gain, to be sure, but one that represents less than a quarter of the jobs lost during the meltdown.

Everything they said is true, as is this chart they thoughtfully provide:

WSJ Manufacturing Chart

Pretty ugly, especially over the past year where we’ve added only 18,000 manufacturing jobs.

So what’s my beef? Why do I think they didn’t quite get it right?

Well, they didn’t account for population growth. During the time in which those 504K jobs were added, the civilian non-institutional labor population increased by 3.7%. So if manufacturing had just increased with population growth, it would have added 424K jobs.

That means that we’ve recovered only 80K manufacturing jobs out of the 2.3 million we lost during the recession. And that’s a job recovery rate of 3.6%, not 22%.

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