As shown in the graph below, manufacturing (real) output (the red line) has finally recovered from the Obama recession and clearly has a lot of momentum in the growth direction. Of course, also clearly, that "momentum" isn't really momentum at all, and can change nearly instantaneously.
From the Money Illusion comes this somewhat related commentary:
First some international comparisons. In the US, IP [Industrial Production] is up more that 73% in the past 25 years. In Japan it fell by 1.5%. Some of that is population, but not all. After all, Japan’s population is higher than it was 25 years ago, and America’s has risen by roughly 30%, not 73%. America industrializes as Japan de-industrializes. Germany reunified 25 years ago, which might affect the data, but their IP is up only about 30% since 1991. France is up only 9% in 25 years. (The 35-hour workweek?). Britain is similar to Japan, down by about 1%. (Falling North Sea oil output?) Italy is down 11.2% in 25 years. (Berlusconi spending too much time at orgies?) It’s the US that stands out as an industrial power, at least if the data is correct.I wrote "somewhat related" because the numbers don't exactly match between countries (various countries slice and dice Industrial Production versus Manufacturing differently and the above commentary is more related to Industrial Production than Manufacturing, but the longer term trends are pretty similar). So you can get an idea from this, but I suggest not quoting any of the numbers without doing more extensive research to understand what you are quoting. Or at least put forth a caveat like I just did.
Nonetheless, of all the advanced economies of any size, the United States is actually doing quite well as far as Manufacturing output and Industrial Production goes (Industrial Production looks even better recently than the above chart because of the shale oil boomlet). Germany is the closest and may possibly be better, but even if so, not by much.
On the other hand, as the above graph also shows, while real Manufacturing output is up 73% over the time period (20 years), the number of jobs has dropped by 30% and as a percent of the workforce has fared even more poorly. A common explanation for the loss of jobs is that they've been transferred overseas, but given the fairly dramatic increase in output, all of the job loss and then some can be explained by increased productivity.
In other words, technology is more the enemy of jobs than foreign competition. But technology is what makes us all better off over the long haul.