Do manufacturers ever get to rest? (No.)

August 23, 2010
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One of the great human achievements of the past couple of centuries has been our ongoing ability to do more with less. We now make things for a fraction of the cost, and there’s no sign of the trend letting up.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has posted a nice summary of these gains following World War II. Consider these observations by Senior Economist William Strauss and marvel:

—Manufacturing productivity growth has averaged 2.9 percent since 1950, meaning only 184 workers accomplish the same amount of work as 1,000 workers in the year when Harry Truman approved production of the hydrogen bomb.

—Technology caused productivity to explode. Computer numerical control drove manufacturing productivity growth at a 3.3-percent annual pace between 1980 and 2009, a period in which productivity in the rest of the economy grew only 2 percent a year.

—Great productivity gains in manufacturing have kept a ceiling on prices. Prices for new vehicles rose 1.7 percent from 1980 to 2009 while the overall Consumer Price Index moved up 3.7 percent.

While it might be hard to imagine manufacturers continuing to wrest even more from less, Strauss sees no end to the improvement.

“The manufacturing sector remains vibrant and innovative. Manufacturing output has been rising at a solid pace over time,” he said.

As Strauss notes, some of these gains have come with wrenching pain for workers whose labor is no longer needed. Others have complained that U.S. trade policy effectively outsourced manufacturing to Asia, which drove down prices through cheap labor, in order to encourage economic stability in the region.

What are your thoughts?

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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