U.S. Remains the World’s Largest Manufacturer

The chart below shows manufacturing output of selected countries and the BRIC countries, as a share of world manufacturing output in 2007, using United Nations data via the BLS (I haven’t been able yet to find comparable data for 2008). It’s interesting that U.S. factories produced almost twice as much output in 2007 as China, and the U.S. produced an amount equivalent to the total manufacturing output of the four BRIC countries combined (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

As a Cato Study concluded in 2007, “Reports of the death of U.S. manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated.”

And as David Brooks wrote in 2008, “Instead of fleeing to Asia, U.S. manufacturing output is up over recent decades. As Thomas Duesterberg of Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, a research firm, has pointed out, the U.S.’s share of global manufacturing output has actually increased slightly since 1980.”

According to the Federal Reserve data, the U.S. produced almost $3 trillion of industrial output in 2008, measured in 2000 dollars (or about $3.7 trillion in 2008 dollars). In other words, if the U.S. manufacturing sector had been counted as a separate country, it would have been tied with Germany as the world’s fourth largest economy, behind the U.S. (non-manufacturing), Japan, and China, and ahead of the entire economies of France, U.K., Italy and Russia (data here).

Bottom Line: The U.S. is still the world’s largest manufacturer.

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About Mark J. Perry 262 Articles

Affiliation: University of Michigan

Dr. Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan.

He holds two graduate degrees in economics (M.A. and Ph.D.) from George Mason University in Washington, D.C. and an MBA degree in finance from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Since 1997, Professor Perry has been a member of the Board of Scholars for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonpartisan research and public policy institute in Michigan.

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