Monday, March 13, 2017

The chart of the day...

...shows the decline in the percentage of the German work force in manufacturing since 1970. (You can always click on my pictures for a closer look.)

Like last Wednesday's chart of the day (above), it shows that the share of German workers engaged in manufacturing, like in the United States, is in a long-term decline. And also like last week, I was alerted to this phenomenon by a piece in Bloomberg by Noah Smith, in this case, "Trump's Plan to Bring Back Manufacturing Isn't Crazy."

Both charts were a bit of a revelation to me. I knew the share of American workers in manufacturing was down, for example, but I had no idea the decline had been in effect since World War II. And, as for Germany, I was always under the impression that the highly-skilled, highly-paid, highly-unionized German worker was maintaining his share of employment. I knew Germany was, despite its relatively small size, second only to China in exports, so I would have assumed that the chart at the top would have been quite a bit less downward-sloping. (That's another thing about which I'll have to recalibrate my thinking.)

And the moral of the story, again, is:

So even if the U.S. manages to bring manufacturing back, it wouldn't recreate the widespread industrial employment of the 1950s and 1960s.

While shipping jobs to China and Mexico certainly hasn't helped the American worker, it seems that technology has played a much bigger role in the decline of employment in manufacturing. Just ask Germany.

So my moral of the story is, again, what happens when Trump doesn't "bring back the jobs"? Will his voters ever figure out they've been conned, or will the Donald just succeed at deflecting the blame onto someone else? I guess the question answers itself.

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