Adam Davidson, writing for the New York Times Magazine:
While there are no universally accepted numbers, the United Nations Statistics Division calculates that the dollar value of goods made in America is at an all-time high of $1.9 trillion, just about even with China. The catch is that the number of American workers needed to create all that value has dropped steadily. In the mid-1940s, more than half of the New Jersey work force was in factories; today around 7 percent do. Thereare the same number of manufacturing jobs nationwide as there were in 1941, when the country was just more than one-third its current population.
Think about that a moment, for two reasons. First, the United States has three times more people today than it did in 1941.
Which brings up the second reason, and one that I think captures the zeitgeist of America today. We want to be all the things we once were, but the world won’t let us. It has moved on, and we can’t bring ourselves to admit it. Want proof? Look to places where the manufacturing economy has been hit hard, like the Northeast Corridor or my home state of Wisconsin.