A popular fallacy is that America’s transition from a manufacturing-based to a serviced-based economy is an example of progress comparable to its transition during the nineteenth century from an agrarian-based to a manufacturing-based economy.
During the nineteenth century, efficiencies made possible by capital investment financed with savings enabled more food to be produced by fewer farm workers.
The increased farm productivity freed up labor to make a transition into higher-paying manufacturing jobs similarly created by capital investment financed by savings. The growth in farm productivity that made the industrial revolution possible also resulted in huge exports of American agricultural products and agricultural trade surpluses.
Contrast that with the modern transition from a manufacturing-based to a service-based economy. In this case, labor was freed up because American manufacturers, increasingly burdened by high taxes, excessive regulation, and trade union demands tantamount to extortion, were driven out of business by more efficient foreign manufacturers, resulting in huge trade deficits as we imported all the stuff we could no longer produce competitively at home. The fact that those displaced factory workers were forced to accept lower-paying jobs in the service sector is indicative not of progress but of colossal failure.