In a posting to his "On the Economy" blog dated July 12, Jared Bernstein cites a "great, new" working paper by Institute vice president Susan N. Houseman in which Houseman debunks the idea that technology is leading to manufacturing job loss in the U.S.
Bernstein then follows up in greater detail in a Washington Post piece also from July 12 titled "Contrary to popular wisdom, automation is not a job killer in U.S. manufacturing."
According to Bernstein,
[M]ost economists argue that what’s really killed jobs in the factory sector is not global competition with low-wage, “mercantilist” countries pursuing export-driven growth. It’s automation-driven productivity.
This assertion is based on the view that output in the sector has grown quickly while employment has tanked, implying faster-than-average growing productivity, or output-per-hour. But Houseman shows that when you pull out one unique sector — computers and electronic products — which accounts for just 13 percent of manufacturing output, the sector has significantly lagged behind the rest of the economy. Without computer production, real “GDP growth in manufacturing was less than half that of the private sector average from 1979 to 2000, and only 12 percent in the 2000s.”
Read "Understanding the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment" by Susan N. Houseman.