This issue of the Letter sounds a stronger note. Manufacturing activity, accelerating nationally in 1987, began to expand at an even faster pace in the Midwest than in the nation as a whole, as shown by the Midwest Manufacturing Index (MMI). Figure 1 compares the performance of the Midwest with a national index, constructed on the same basis as the MMI. This Letter breaks down manufacturing activity into five sectors to identify strengths and weaknesses underlying the Midwest’s performance in 1987 and to consider their implications for 1988.
The very first of these “essays on issues” (September 1987) spoke of the Midwest’s ordeal of change. Midwestern manufacturing had not only been lagging behind national output growth historically, but had actually begun to decline around 1970.