[Excerpt] After rebounding from the 2007-2009 recession, U.S. manufacturing output has grown little since the second half of 2014. Over the same period, employment in the U.S. manufacturing sector has been flat. These trends defy expectations that forces such as higher labor costs in the emerging economies of Asia, heightened concern about the risk of disruptions to long, complex supply chains, and the development of inexpensive domestic supplies of natural gas would bring a surge of factory production in the United States.
The health of U.S. manufacturing is a subject of ongoing interest in Congress. Numerous bills are introduced in each session to encourage capital investment, support training of workers for manufacturing jobs, increase research and development related to manufacturing, and strengthen mandates for the use of domestic goods in federally funded projects and programs. Proponents of such efforts often associate increased factory activity with the creation of jobs for workers without higher education. Evidence suggests, however, that even strong growth in manufacturing output could well have only modest impact on job creation, and is unlikely to increase demand for workers with lower levels of education.