That “American manufacturing renaissance?” Not so fast:
The anecdotes are nice, but the broader data just don’t bear it out. Manufacturing employment over the last 12 months has essentially been flat, stuck at around 11.9 million workers since April 2012. The industry has added around 500,000 jobs since the recession ended, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared with the 1.8 million manufacturing jobs lost from November 2007 through the end of 2010.
It’s not just employment that’s been sagging. Industrial production shrank 0.5 percent in April, according to new data from the Federal Reserve. Overall, the country is using about 77 percent of its total industrial capacity, nearly 3 percentage points below the 40-year average.
The latest bad news comes from the Philadelphia Fed’s report on regional manufacturing activity, which plummeted to a -5.2 reading this month. The average estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 2. Anything below zero indicates contraction.
With the jokers we have in charge, never, ever believe the hype.