China Overtakes U.S. in Manufacturing

The Editors | April 23, 2012, 2:47 p.m.
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After dominating the world manufacturing economy for decades, the United States slipped to second place behind China in 2010.

The U.S. share of global manufacturing value has been on a fairly steady decline since 2000 as Chinese manufacturing has shot up, surpassing Germany in 1999 and Japan in 2007.

The fact that the U.S. has stayed competitive globally with a collapsing labor market is evidence of its continued edge in productivity — more than one-third of American million manufacturing jobs disappeared between 1970 and 2010, while the Chinese now enjoy a total labor force five times that in the U.S.

The five countries shown are those that have ever been in the top three for manufacturing during the period 1970-2010.

Read more at CQ.com: Making it in the 21st Century

About the Data

The United Nation’s National Main Accounts Database has a variety of resources related to economic output of countries. The interactive above was derived from this spreadsheet, downloaded from the UN’s database, which breaks down each country’s gross domestic product by contributing industry.

We filtered on “Manufacturing” to view that sector’s contribution to each nations economy each year from 1970 to 2010.

The same spreadsheet can be used to compare other sectors such as agriculture and construction, and to view each country’s annual imports and exports.