Over at Slate, Matt asks if the "manufacturing rebound" actually happening. He shows a graph of manufacturing employment, reproduced here:
(click the pic for an even more Perk-esque image).
However if we look at output instead of employment, the picture is quite different:
(clic the pic for an even more Chamberlin-ian image)
The amount of stuff we manufacture has recovered in a V like pattern, without adding very many employees. Since the end of the recession, it looks like around a 17% increase in output but only around a 4% increase in employment. Notice that in the last downturn both series fell substantially (17% fall in employment, 19% fall in output) so it's probably not a labor hoarding story that explains the jobless recovery in manufacturing).
So what is manufacturing? The products or the jobs?