But the fact that the other guys are doing worse doesn't make for much of a salve for those counting on manufacturing to be a driver of American recovery.
The advocates of a vibrant U.S. factory sector have been fighting a longer historical tide.
There were 17 million U.S. manufacturing jobs in 2000, a number that fell to 13.7 million even before the deep recession started at the end of 2007.
There are now fewer than 12 million such jobs.
But there has been reason to think the United States might finally gain momentum.
The decline in wages during the recession has made American companies more competitive in the global workplace, even as a booming economy in China and other emerging nations has put upward pressure on wages there, making them less competitive.
Low interest rate policies from the Federal Reserve have put downward pressure on the dollar, further helping exporters.
What is hard to discern is whether the softening in the manufacturing data in the past few months is another disappointing moment in a recovery that has been full of fits and starts, or the longer historical trend standing in the way of the U.S. factory sector reasserting itself.
The fact that the manufacturing downturn is global argues for the first theory and suggests there may be room for American manufacturers to grow.
That's the good news.
The bad news, made clear in the past few months, is that they will need a healthier global economy to do it.
And with Europe in recession and China in the midst of a confidence-rattling leadership transition, happier days for the world economy don't appear on the horizon anytime soon.
Irwin is a writer for The Washington Post.