When siting the proposed basketball arena in Seattle’s Sodo district and also the Burke Gilman Trail through Ballard, there has been an assumption, sometimes unstated, that manufacturing is the activity of the past.

When siting the proposed basketball arena in Seattle’s Sodo district and also the Burke Gilman Trail through Ballard, there has been an assumption, sometimes unstated, that manufacturing is the activity of the past. The activity of the future is entertainment. If the two clash, well, so what, because Seattle’s future, and the State of Washington’s future, is post-industrial.

And it is not so. We are used to statistics showing that the percentage of Americans employed in manufacturing has been declining—and so it has, for about 100 years, mainly because manufacturers have learned to produce a given amount of value with fewer labor hours. In recent years manufacturing jobs have also declined because of offshoring to China, but that is neither the whole story nor the permanent story.