cover image Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters

Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters

Louis Uchitelle. New Press, $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-59558-897-5

Manufacturing in the United States “is not dying,” Uchitelle (The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences) argues in this slim, fact-packed book about how factories have declined but not disappeared in the U.S. Reports of manufacturing’s demise may be somewhat exaggerated, but there’s no question that the sector has shrunk dramatically as a share of the U.S. economy, displacing generations of high school graduates who depended on industrial jobs for middle-class lifestyles. Uchitelle convincingly debunks explanations that blame supposedly unskilled workers for their own plight, instead pointing to the rise of multinational corporations, a lack of federal government subsidies , and destructive competition among U.S. cities to attract factories that haphazardly relocate jobs from point A to point B. Uchitelle’s book is strong on nostalgia, history, and honesty as he concludes that, despite all his credible arguments about the value of manufacturing jobs, offshoring from the U.S. isn’t likely to be reversed. If industries that offshored manufacturing brought some of that production home, Uchitelle writes, “American would be restored as a manufacturing giant.” Could that happen? “The answer,” he says, “is no. It’s too late.” Though repetitive at times, Uchitelle’s book is an elegant swan song for a lost era of U.S. manufacturing greatness. (May)