Caroline Freund, 01 June 2017

Many analysts have argued that Trump’s promises to bring back US manufacturing paved the way for his election victory. This column compares electoral data from 2016 with previous elections and argues that education and race were far bigger factors than a county’s share of manufacturing jobs in determining the change in its voting from the 2012 election. In addition, relatively low voting rates among Democratic voters were a bigger contributor to the results than high voting rates among Republicans. Trump did not win the white working class, Clinton lost it.

David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon Hanson, Gary P. Pisano, Pian Shu, 20 March 2017

The discussion of the decline in US manufacturing during the 2016 presidential election campaign largely focused on job losses. This column examines the effects of Chinese import competition on another metric for the health of the US manufacturing sector – innovation.  Firms whose industries were exposed to a greater surge of Chinese import competition from 1991 to 2007 experienced a significant decline in their patent output as well as their R&D expenditures. While politicians’ ‘obsession’ with manufacturing is primarily due to job losses, an accompanying reduction in innovation may well affect economic growth in the longer term.

Christoph Boehm, Aaron Flaaen, Nitya Pandalai Nayar, 09 January 2015

There is an ongoing debate among economists whether international trade contributes to business cycles synchronisation. So far, causal evidence has been limited. This column presents new research on the role of multinational firms in the transmission of shocks. The authors use a rich firm-level dataset from the US Census Bureau and the 2011 Japanese earthquake/tsunami as a natural experiment. They find that US firms with high dependence on Japanese inputs suffered large output losses following the earthquake. Global supply chains, therefore, play an important role in the cross-country transmission of shocks. 

Theodore Moran, Lindsay Oldenski, 09 August 2014

There is indisputable evidence that manufacturing employment as a share of total employment in the US has been declining. This column argues that focusing on employment masks important signs of growth of the manufacturing sector. Using most up-to-date data, the authors reason that the US manufacturing base is growing larger, more productive and competitive. The expansion of operations abroad by US manufacturing multinationals leads to particularly strong increases in economic activity – including creation of greater numbers of high-paying manufacturing jobs – by those same firms in the US domestic economy.

Yoonsoo Lee, Toshihiko Mukoyama, 07 January 2008

It is commonly believed that business cycles ‘cleanse’ industry with waves of creative destruction. New research shows that entry is higher in booms than busts, but exit rates and the type of exiting firms, are steady over the cycle. Plants entering during recessions, however, are larger and more productive –‘creative entry’ rather than ‘creative destruction’.