While you make some interesting points, this whole post is compromised for me — and I hope other people who care about thoughtful presentation of data and information—by the misleading chart. The vertical axis should run from 0% to 36%, not from 8% to 36%. As presented, it visually exaggerates the proportional decline in US manufacturing.
It seems to indicate that employment in manufacturing decreased more than 95%, when it fact it decreased by about 60%. That’s a dramatic distortion.
The impact is less severe for other countries, but nevertheless significant. Even for Italy—the country least effected, for which there appears to be a complete data series—for the proportional decline of 20% is exaggerated to about 30%.