US to China: Ours is Bigger

Two things jump out in this article about the the US manufacturing economy and the world’s greatest engineering school, MIT*.

First, that manufacturing as a percentage of US economic output is on a short-term rise, albeit a slight one, growing to 13% of the GDP in 2009 from 12% in 2002. (Annoyingly, this chart shows up only in the pay version of the online article.)

Second, in whole numbers, at $1.854 trillion, the US manufacturing output in 2009 actually was larger than that of China’s, which weighed in at $1.695 trillion. This backs up what proponents of US manufacturing have been saying all along: that the domestic manufacturing sector remains bigger — in this case, by some $159 billion — despite the general perception.

Ironically, the point of the article — that, as it did in the early 1990s, MIT has formed a blue-chip committee to study the role of manufacturing in the US economy — falls short by acknowledging no one knows whether the original study had any impact.

*Said with disdain appropriate of a University of Illinois graduate.

**GDP per World Bank figures.