At the end of WWII, while most of the world lay in ruin, the U.S. accounted for 25.6% of the planet’s industrial output. By 1970, America’s global manufacturing share stood at 22%—where it has remained for the past four decades. The 22% figure also means that the U.S. still represents the world’s largest manufacturer.
During 2011, manufacturing output for the U.S. grew by over 11%; taken alone, U.S. manufacturing would represent the world’s eighth largest economy (source: The Wall Street Journal). The crisis in America has been jobs, not world market share. After WWII, industry employed one in three workers; today, it is one in eight—a result largely due to gains in productivity.
Real manufacturing output stood at $35,000 per worker in 1947. Adjusted for inflation, that number doubled by 1980 and was $150,000 per worker by 2011. Manufacturing productivity has increased by 103% since the late 1980s, outpacing every other industry. All this translates into good news for consumers: prices for manufactured goods declined a cumulative 3% since the 1990s, even though overall prices rose by 33%.