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Noah Smith

Don’t Give Up on Bringing Manufacturing Back to the U.S.

Tariffs, threats and trade wars didn’t work, but more cooperation between government and industry might.  

Al may not be lost.

Al may not be lost.

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

More than three years ago, Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to bring U.S. manufacturing back from China. Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Trump’s economic expansion -- which became the longest on record -- didn’t even manage to restore all the manufacturing jobs lost in the Great Recession, much less reverse the declines of the previous decade:

Nor was it simply a case of automation taking over from human laborers.  Manufacturing production fell in 2019, and never reached its pre-2008 peak: