As of December 2017, manufacturers employed 4.9 percent of Americans -- up from 4.84 percent in November 2016, but still below the 4.94 percent recorded in December 2014, during Barack Obama's presidency, and still only about half of the 9.49 percent that prevailed in 1990. In numerical terms, Trump's industrial revival has been the barest of blips. Meanwhile, the Carrier Corp. plant in Indiana that Trump promised to save just laid off another 215 workers.

...presidential willpower just isn't that important in real life. Optimism might cause a few manufacturers like Straub to engage in a small burst of hiring, but in the long-term it will be cold hard economic incentives that prove decisive... Although policies such as the corporate tax cut might have a marginal effect on manufacturing, taxes overall are a small factor for industry... although corporate tax rates remained steady or came down during the 1990s and 2000s, manufacturing employment fell off a cliff. Rebuilding U.S. manufacturing is a good goal, but there are no quick fixes.

Second, even if U.S. manufacturing regains its dominance, most of the jobs aren't coming back. Like agriculture a century ago, manufacturing is doing more with less -- productivity continues to increase, even as demand for manufactured goods remains relatively constant.

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