Despite the best efforts of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, manufacturing continues to get killed in the business press. In Monday's debate, Clinton even used a term endearing to government and policy wonks -- "advanced manufacturing" -- to promote its importance.
But business media remains generally unimpressed. It's more popular today for local and national voices to dismiss manufacturing as a relic than view it as integral to the future.
Manufacturing wasn't even a category. Instead:
The Power Book is an exclusive look at business men and women in 11 industry categories who were prominent in the news over the last year or who, in our judgment, otherwise deserve recognition for recent business accomplishments."
No manufacturing executives in Colorado deserve recognition? Astonishing.
As head-scratching the DBJ's omission, the national media is often more transparent in its anti-manufacturing bias. Here's Forbes' Tim Worstall:
[T]he truth is that manufacturing simply isn't important as a part of the economy these days. The attention we all pay to it is simply an historical overhang from when it was more important.
Worstall's anti-manufacturing opinion is one thing. His bias is more problematic when he misleads with statistics. Worstall cites manufacturing's share of "real GDP'," arguing that its influence has diminished:
The truth is that manufacturing is only 15% of the entire global economy. And it's some 12% of the US economy. . . . That is, it's unimportant.
Was manufacturing "unimportant" in 1960? Quite the contrary. But using Worstall's statistic of choice, ‘the truth' is that manufacturing's 50-year historical average has remained the same:
Manufacturing's not the employment engine it once was. Today we make more with less workers. It makes manufacturing less important from an employment standpoint. It also makes it an industry in transition.
It should be easy for business media to see past the employment sea change, as dramatic as it is. As we've documented, American productivity has never been higher. Candidates running for president would do well to explain why manufacturing is important to the U.S. economy. Here's a national perspective from Brookings:
How long can the list go? Try local reasons:
On the eve of the election, consider bias in media and how, if you're a manufacturer, it matters.
And what you intend to do about it.
Bart Taylor is publisher if CompanyWeek. Reach him at email@example.com.
We hope to see you Wednesday afternooon at the third annual Apparel + Lifestyle Manufacturing Summit in Denver to help advance regional manufacturing!