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In Britain, employment in manufacturing peaked in 1966, when there were over 8m jobs in the sector. By 2009, this number had fallen to a little over 2.5m. So, every year for the last 43 years, an average of 130,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared.

However, this picture is not quite all that it seems. First, manufacturing employment consists of all the people who work in companies whose main business is manufacturing goods. But many of these employees are not involved in making things—they may be caterers, accountants, lorry drivers and so on. Second, manufacturing output is a value-added measure. Roughly…

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