In response to this post from earlier today, Washington University economist Ian Fillmore sent to me the following e-mail, which I share here in full with Ian’s kind permission:
I suppose the U.S. has “de-industrialized” over the last few decades in the same sense that the U.S. has “de-agriculturized” over the last 150 years. It is true that far fewer people have to work on farms today. But the U.S. produces far more food than ever before. Just as the production of food has become invisible to most of us, so too has the production of raw inputs like steel, or even manufactured goods like cars, become invisible. But this is not a new observation. Leonard Read pointed out years ago that none of us really knows how anything around us gets made. Perhaps some folks find the invisibility of modern manufacturing distressing. Not to worry, the market caters to their desires too!