The United Nations updated its National Accounts Main Aggregates Database today with data for 2011. The chart above compares the annual manufacturing output of the US and China from 1970 to 2011 measured in current US dollars. Before 2004, the United Nations only reported “Mining, Manufacturing and Utilities” for China, so the comparison above is for that measure of manufacturing in both countries, rather than just “manufacturing.”
In 2010, the manufacturing output of both countries was almost exactly equal, with China at $2.373 trillion and the US at $2.365 trillion. But in 2011, China’s manufacturing output surged by 23% while manufacturing output in the U.S. only increased by 2.8%. That brought China’s manufacturing output last year to more than $2.9 trillion, which was almost half a trillion dollars (and 20%) more manufacturing output than the $2.43 trillion of manufacturing output that was produced in the U.S. last year.
Looking at just manufacturing (without mining and utilities) in 2011, China’s factories produced $2.34 trillion of output, which was 23% higher than factory output in the US at $1.9 trillion. The chart below shows annual manufacturing output only (without utilities and mining) in the U.S. and China from 1970 to 2011, with estimates of China’s annual manufacturing output before 2004.
Bottom Line: In 2010 the U.S. and China produced roughly the same amount of manufacturing output, but in 2011 China clearly overtook the U.S. to become the world’s largest manufacturer. America’s long reign as the world’s No. 1 manufacturer has finally come to an end. I’ll provide more charts and analysis on the new updated database in subsequent posts.