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Innovation Fact of the Week: U.S. Manufacturing Holding Steady at One Production Worker For Every Non-production Worker

Manufacturing

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Some argue that outsourcing manufacturing activities to lower-cost countries and adopting labor-saving technologies rapidly displaces production jobs in the United States. In fact, the job makeup of the U.S. manufacturing sector has held quite steady since 2002—manufacturers have employed one production worker for every non-production worker.

In 2002, production workers such as assemblers, technicians, and machine operators made up about half of the U.S. manufacturing sector (52 percent). As of 2015, that share had barely changed at all (51.6 percent). This fact could be attributable to technological disruptions being more labor-enhancing rather than labor-saving—technologies increase worker productivity rather than outright replace workers.

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About the author

John Wu is an economic research assistant at ITIF His research interests include green technologies, labor economics, and time use. He graduated from the College of Wooster with a bachelor of arts in economics and sociology, with a minor in environmental studies.