Starting in 1998, the number of factories located in the U.S. began to decline from a height of almost 380,000. This drop continued through the 1990s and 2000s, getting particularly severe in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 economic recession. Today, there are just over 300,000 factories in the U.S.
However, while this information has been a cause of alarm for some, others are looking at the bright side. Since 2012, the number of domestic factories has by and large stopped declining. Some economists believe that this may be a sign that the shrinking of the American manufacturing sector is over, and that growth may even be on the horizon.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, argues that this moment is upon us.
"After a steady decline that continued for over ten years, we've finally flattened out," he told the news source. Meckstroth cites data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that more factories may soon be opening as fewer close.
He remains cautious, though. "But we're not going to have a renaissance, in the sense of getting manufacturing back up to the share of the economy it was in the mid-1990s," he said, noting that progress will first have to be made on the trade deficit. "You just can't continue to run higher and higher deficits and think the industry is going to be in any kind of a renaissance."
A contributing factor in the growth of manufacturing is the development of CNC machine services, which help factories access custom components in a more efficient manner.