U.S. Manufacturing: A Remembrance and a Look Ahead

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If it weren’t for American manufacturing, the reporter who wrote this story wouldn’t be here today. Literally.

A century ago, my grandfather moved from Poland to Youngstown, Ohio, to work in a steel mill. At the time, Ohio factories were cranking out steel slabs, tires and cars — building a mountain of wealth that the next generation could climb. And the generation after that.

But what will happen in the 21st century? Is the path that led to higher ground blocked now?

The answer is complicated.

That’s because, on the one hand, U.S. manufacturing is booming. Customers everywhere want our aircraft, electrical equipment, engines, metal products, chemicals and much more.

So in dollar terms, output is at record levels — worth more than $2 trillion. Back in 1964, remembered as a glorious time in our industrial history, factories generated only about $1.3 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Read more: NPR