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We all seem to bemoan the decline in manufacturing like it is something new occurring the last few years. I don’t hear people advocating that we have lost too many farming jobs and we need to fix that.  The truth is we live in a service economy and we have for some time now.

The chart below gives the long view of this going back to 1840.

“New ideas for reviving American manufacturing seem to appear every day. Many of these notions have merit, but most are built on a flawed premise: that the decline in U.S. factory jobs is a recent occurrence, one that can be reversed through tax cuts or trade policy. Unfortunately, U.S. industrial decline is a long-run phenomenon and will not be reversed by short-term fixes. Let’s take a look at the trends and their implications.”

Source: History lessons: Understanding the decline in manufacturing | MinnPost

chart of distribution of labor force by sector from 1840-2010