26 July 2017

U.S. Manufacturing Poised for a Comeback (Maybe)

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Manufacturing in the U.S. is starting to make a comeback, and is poised for even bigger gains in the years ahead.

That, at least, is the way the optimists see it.

Driven partly by more competitive labor and energy costs and companies' desire to produce goods closer to their customers, the number of factory jobs has started to rise after plunging for decades, edging up by about 600,000 over the past four years to more than 12 million. Some U.S. companies are bringing jobs back home, and foreign businesses are setting up shop. Newspapers are trumpeting investments in American production, and advertisements—such as the nostalgia-drenched Chrysler TV ad shown during the Super Bowl and featuring Bob Dylan —celebrate a resurgent U.S. manufacturing sector.

"The economics of the world are changing in favor of U.S. manufacturing," says Hal Sirkin, a Chicago-based senior partner of Boston Consulting Group.

That's the case made by the bulls, but plenty of skeptics argue that there are lots of reasons to doubt it. For all the positive trends and statistics, they cite numbers pointing the other way. And, the skeptics argue, the U.S. government needs to overhaul its policies and industry must invest more heavily before any real change can happen.

With that in mind, here are four reasons to bet on U.S. factories—and four reasons to be cautious.

Click here for the full article in the Wall Street Journal.

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