[Excerpt] The health of the U.S. manufacturing sector has long been of great concern to Congress. The decline in manufacturing employment since the start of the 21st century has stimulated particular congressional interest. The Obama Administration has undertaken a variety of related initiatives, and Members have introduced hundreds of bills intended to support domestic manufacturing activity in various ways. The proponents of such measures frequently contend that the United States is by various measures falling behind other countries in manufacturing, and they argue that this relative decline can be mitigated or reversed by government policy.
This report is designed to inform the debate over the health of U.S. manufacturing through a series of charts and tables that depict the position of the United States relative to other countries according to various metrics. Understanding which trends in manufacturing reflect factors that may be unique to the United States and which are related to broader changes in technology or consumer preferences may be helpful in formulating policies intended to aid firms or workers engaged in manufacturing activity. This report does not describe or discuss specific policy options.