Operations Inside The Rebecca Minkoff Handbag Manufacturing Facility
Atisha Paulson/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesAn employee sews printed leather patterns for a Rebecca Minkoff handbag at the Baikal manufacturing facility in New York.
By James B. Kelleher

DETROIT -- Call it the comeback kid.

A new ranking of the competitiveness of the world's top 25 exporting countries says the United States is once again a "rising star" of global manufacturing thanks to falling domestic natural gas prices, rising worker productivity and a lack of upward wage pressure.

The report, released Friday by the Boston Consulting Group, found that while China remains the world's No. 1 country in terms of manufacturing competitiveness, its position is "under pressure" as a result of rising labor and transportation costs and lagging productivity growth.

The United States, meanwhile, which has lost nearly 7.5 million industrial jobs since employment in the sector peaked in 1979 as manufacturers shipped production to low-cost countries, is now No. 2 in terms of overall competitiveness, BCG said.

The biggest factor driving the U.S. rebound, according to BCG: cheap natural gas prices, which have tumbled 50 percent over the last decade as a result of the shale gas revolution.

Also contributing to the country's attractiveness, according to BCG, is "stable wage growth" -- a euphemism for the fact that, in inflation-adjusted terms, industrial wages here are lower today than they were in the 1960s even though worker productivity has doubled over the same period of time.

"Overall costs in the U.S.," the report's authors write, "are 10 to 25 percent lower than those of the world's ten leading goods-exporting nations other than China" and on par with Eastern Europe.

Another standout in the rankings is Mexico, which BCG categorizes as a "rising star" with lower average manufacturing costs than China. But the country failed to make BCG's list of Top 10 manufacturers because of other factors, including rampant crime and corruption.

BCG arrived at the rankings using a proprietary index that focuses on four major factors: wages, productivity growth, energy costs and exchange rates.

In addition to China, four other countries with reputations as low-cost production centers -- Brazil, the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia -- are classified as being "under pressure" in terms of their manufacturing costs.

Here is BCG's ranking of the world's Top 10 countries in terms of manufacturing competitiveness:
  1. China
  2. United States
  3. South Korea
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Japan
  6. Netherlands
  7. Germany
  8. Italy
  9. Belgium
  10. France


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46 Comments

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oemgeorge

No clue on what natural gas prices dropped 50% over the past decade - mine sure hasn't. In fact, it's gone up.

April 28 2014 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kayjim113

So, What is it that we are manufacturing????

April 27 2014 at 2:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bruce

Yeah, about that "lack of upward pressure" on wages-- why don't they just refer to American rank and file workers as the slaves they are, and quite this silly "productivity squeeze" that is killing off our workers?

April 26 2014 at 2:23 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

This is the republican way, they are getting stronger in government because of all the money they spend to buy these elections. Shameful but they are winning and we can see it in our paycheck and the loss of benefits. People you must learn to think for yourself.

April 26 2014 at 12:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
WAYNE

Of course we are thrilled to see the partial recovery of the manufacturing prowess that we possessed during the 50's and 60's. However I don't believe we have to do this by cheating our wage earners out of their just rewards. We can continue this progress instead through education, organization of workers, innovation and productivity along with higher tariff's on exports from countries which brutally exploit labor and wreck environment. For the past 2 decades almost every trade pact we have made has damaged the U.S. worker. Also behind our worker's plight is the awful concentation of money blended with political power.

April 25 2014 at 11:20 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Stephen

It would be nice to pick up an item for sale…and see "Made in the USA" on it.

April 25 2014 at 10:33 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
kmcc895370

More propaganda to try to make Americans feel good about low wages and outsourced jobs. George Orwell would be amazed at how the US has adopted the practices to decieve and manipulate the public that he wrote about in his novel 1984.

April 25 2014 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
paddleman1928

when we are truly a third world country we will be REALLY competitive-maybe 5 years at most.

April 25 2014 at 9:19 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Ben

Simple economics people. Buy low sell high.Who ever is cheapest will get the work. When they can cut enough jobs to make everybody hungry for work they have the upper hand and can demand lower wages and less worker protection. And get both. When people stand behind each other and refuse to buy from a company that does this stuff workers can demand a decent wage. When people refuse to buy goods made in another country just to save a few bucks, workers can demand a decent wage. When people start to think of others before themselves and are willing to put this country first we'll turn things around. Don't blame any president for doing or not doing what we the people should be doing for ourselves. American corporations know we won't and because of that they know they have control over the jobs and the wages. It's our fault for giving control to greedy corporations and bad poloticians. Just my two cents.

April 25 2014 at 8:03 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ben's comment
WAYNE

Ben all this is true but one item seems to be missing.
Political money with its propagana, armies of high paid lobbiests, terrible campaign financing law, etc. are in effect engaged in long war that has been successfully waged against organized labor in the U.S. Oganized laber created the middle class and without it, our middle class will cease to exist.

April 25 2014 at 11:29 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Wally G Stone

Your two cents "in print"....... is worth millions in "truth".... It is sad that the American people have lost control of their country to Corporate Greed and crooked Politicians. The rich get richer and the poor suck "hind teet"... and in the words of Sonny and Cher.... "and the beat goes on,,,,,and the beat goes on!!!!

April 26 2014 at 4:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
davchff

Sounds like someones smoking something funny in Boston...look at the real numbers for wages, layoffs and closings.

April 25 2014 at 5:26 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to davchff's comment
WAYNE

No its not smoking funny if you look at the multibillions big oil, big pharmacy, big banks and big doctors are racking up at the expense of our middle class. Our corrupt gov. will not even allow Medicare nor Medicaid to bargain with big pharmacy as the Vet Admin. has always done.

April 25 2014 at 11:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply