The U.S. is poised to surpass China by 2020 and become the No. 1 most competitive manufacturing country in the world.
According to a study by the Council on Competitiveness, the U.S. has moved up from the fourth most competitive manufacturing country in the world to third in 2013 and second in 2016.
According to recent numbers, there are about 114 million workers in manufacturing in China, and just over 11 million workers in manufacturing in the United States, as of 2014. Meanwhile, China’s share of manufacturing activity throughout the world was about 22%, while the United States share of manufacturing activity throughout the world was about 17.4%. A Brookings Institute report shows that in 2015 China’s manufacturing output was about 20% of the world’s manufacturing, while the USA’s manufacturing output was about 18%.
So although China’s workers earn much less than United States workers, the U.S. manufacturing companies are much more productive overall. And manufacturing employment in China has been declining since the 1990s.
One of the main reasons the U.S. has been catching up to China is because cheap labor is mattering less than it used to. Also, access to advanced technologies and materials and intellectual property protections are mattering more and more, according to a Fortune article.