I was living in Pittsburgh in my teens and twenties during the collapse of the steel industry and remember how profoundly it impacted Pittsburgh. Some say that due to the large percentage of the population of Allegheny County that were employed in steel manufacturing, the impacts were greater than The Great Depression. I was in my thirties when NAFTA/GATT was passed and from my understanding this also caused the loss of additional US manufacturing jobs.
Many politicians told Americans that they needed to retrain for higher-paying, technology jobs since manufacturing was going where labor prices were cheaper and I remember when Ronald Reagan came to Pittsburgh in 1983 to promote this agenda as well.
While I'm not an economist, I think the term for this is comparitive advantage, but as an IT professional, I am now seeing tech jobs being off-shored and ironically recently US Steel laid off 100 IT employees in one of their Pittsburgh locations.
Why is it important for a country to have a strong manufacturing base?
I have read that labor is the store of all value (Labor Theory of Value), and I think it might have something to do with this.
Thanks in advance.