Economy

Is it getting easier to find products made in the U.S.?

A welder at work in Park Tool’s HQ near St Paul, Minn. (File/Molly Bloom/MPR News)“Since 2010, U.S. manufacturers have added 665,000 jobs. Now some economists say that doesn’t mean much. Manufacturing lost nearly 7 million jobs in the 30 years before that, so historically this could be just a blip. They expect job losses will soon continue in the long, sad story about the decline of manufacturing jobs in America,” writes NPR’s Chris Arnold.

But others aren’t so sure that’s the right way to look at it.

“I think that’s an old story,” says Barry Bluestone, an economist at Northeastern University in Boston. He’s been studying the 7,000 manufacturing businesses in Massachusetts, surveying hundreds of them and making site visits to dozens.

“We’re seeing a new, almost renaissance in manufacturing,” he says. Bluestone says manufacturers are learning new technologies, and new manufacturing technologies are being developed at major universities. Nanotechnology, for example, holds great promise for cutting-edge U.S. manufacturing firms, he says.