America’s economy won’t boom again unless the manufacturing sector does. Period.
Let’s stipulate that when it comes to the dignity of work, all jobs matter — whether coding in San Jose, construction work in Cincinnati, or urgent-care nursing in Queens. But the big question on the table is whether America can restore the boom days of 3-percent-per-year growth. And here manufacturing jobs are key.
However, there is an idea in circulation — especially popular in corners of Silicon Valley — that future workers face a tech-driven gig economy disconnected from “dirty” old factories. In that worldview, it’s futile to try and revive “disappearing industries like mining and manufacturing;” the focus should be on “emerging, fast-growing industries” instead.
Set aside what constitutes “emerging” and “fast-growing,” and consider the inconvenient truth that not all jobs are equal, economically speaking. When it comes to creating wealth for all of society, there’s no substitute for manufacturing jobs.
A dollar added to the GDP by a factory generates a spillover economic benefit some three-fold greater than a dollar added by a car or food service. This well-established phenomenon is....