The Jobs Can Come Back

Assembly line at the General Motors manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., August 22, 2019. (Harrison McClary/Reuters)
Automation and offshoring are no impediment to building things in America.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE P erhaps no economic idea has penetrated the American mainstream more successfully than “the manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back.” It’s a high-status position to hold, shared by public intellectuals of all stripes, from New York Times editors to Ivy League economists to American presidents, trickling down to a thousand armchair policy wonks. Prestigious publications churn out article after article repeating this position, and the numbers appear to back it up: American manufacturing employment has been declining for 30 years, even as we produce more manufactured goods than ever before.

The conventional wisdom goes something like this: American manufacturing employment will continue to

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