Magazine February 11, 2019, Issue

Undoing the China Shock

Trade with China helps make it possible. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
It’s a less attractive course on trade than one might think

American manufacturing doesn’t offer nearly as many jobs as it once did, and there are serious downsides to this fact.

In 1970 about 18 million Americans worked in manufacturing: twenty-five percent of all nonfarm employ­ment in the country. That number dropped just a little over the next 30 years, to about 17 million — but the population grew and women flooded into the work force during that time as well, so the share of nonfarm workers in manufacturing was below 15 percent at the turn of the century.

Things only got worse from there, owing largely to an increase in trade with

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