American Manufacturing: A History #4thOfJuly

Today we celebrate the long history of manufacturing in the United States of America. Here’s a long read from Stacker:

Between the mid-to-late 18th century and early-to-mid 19th century, economies in what would come to be called industrialized nations made a dramatic shift from hand production to machine production during the Industrial Revolution. In much of the world, however, modern manufacturing truly came into its own in the 20th century, and the United States of America led the charge—at least at first.

More than any other sector, manufacturing produced the American middle class and established the United States as a global superpower with the highest standard of living in history. By the 1920s and ’30s, about 20% of the U.S. workforce labored in the manufacturing sector. Those laborers didn’t only make toasters, roller skates, transistors, and Barbie dolls. The country’s factories also formed the backbone of its military might—America’s enemies learned the hard way that, when needed, the U.S. Armed Forces could rely on the country’s manufacturers to produce supplies and armaments in quantities so massive that no enemy could possibly withstand the onslaught.

Stacker compiled a year-by-year list of manufacturing history over the course of a century from a variety of sources, including historic St. Louis Fed data on employees since 1939, hourly earnings since 1939, average hours since 1939, and manufacturing production since 1920. Stacker also used inflation data from the Minneapolis Fed and historical GDP (since 1947) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The following is a synopsis of how manufacturing evolved during—and steered the evolution of—an American century defined by advances so revolutionary that their impact is still being felt today.

Learn more!


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