For the first time since 1997, US manufacturing jobs increased in 2010 compared to the previous year. Until 2010 for 12 straight years the number of US manufacturing jobs declined year over year. The 12 year losing streak has been broken.
Manufacturing jobs have been lost for two basic reasons. We have heard a lot about one reason: jobs getting off-shored to nations where wages can be one-tenth or less of US wage rates.
We have not heard much about another reason: technological innovation that has reduced the need for labor. Manufacturing output in the USA has climbed, while manufacturing jobs have declined.
Agriculture is another sector where the number of jobs sharply declined, while output soared as a result of ever more powerful, productive machines and processes.
What is the outlook for 2011?
Right now 2011 looks like it could be the beginning of a winning streak. 2011 may well mark two years in a row where the total number of manufacturing jobs increase.