Some important facts:
Manufacturers are shedding jobs around the industrial world. Germany lost more than a fifth of its factory jobs from 1991 to 2007, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, about the same share as the United States. Japan—the manufacturing behemoth of the 1980s—lost a third.
Since Germany is so hot right now it’s important in particular to focus on this. If you’re interested in net exports, the German economy looks very different from the United States. But if you’re interested in the role of the manufacturing sector, then the United States and Germany look very similar. In both countries, manufacturing has been a shrinking share of output and a faster-shrinking share of the workforce for a long time and in both countries the majority of people work in services.