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.