Manufacturing plays a particularly important role in supporting jobs in a core group of states in the upper Midwest and South states. The manufacturing sector employs workers at all skill and education levels, and is a particularly important provider of jobs with good wages for workers without a college degree.
The data show that manufacturing employment was stable for three decades until 1998, and has been on a largely downward trajectory since then, with traditional manufacturing states hit particularly hard. Given its size and importance, we cannot ignore the consequences of such a decline. Further, the policies that would help manufacturing the most are those that would help close the nation’s large trade deficit.
For the manufacturing sector, the last two business cycles have resulted in historically weak business cycle recoveries.