Stephen Manning, AP: It seems as if the country that used to make everything is on the brink of making nothing. In January, 207,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs vanished in the largest one-month drop since October 1982. U.S. factory activity is hovering at a 28-year low. Even before the recession, plants were hemorrhaging work to foreign competitors with low-cost labor. And some companies were moving production overseas.
But manufacturing in the United States is not dead or even dying. It is moving upscale, following the biggest profits and becoming more efficient, just as Henry Ford did when he created the assembly line to make the Model T car.
The United States remains by far the world’s leading manufacturer by value of goods produced. It hit a record $1.6 trillion in 2007 — nearly double the $811 billion of 1987. For every $1 of value produced in China factories, the United States generates $2.50.
So what is made in the USA these days?
An Intel microprocessor lab in Hillsboro, Oregon. Much U.S. manufacturing is of high-end products like computer chips. Low-end goods can be made more cheaply elsewhere.