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The recession hit Caterpillar hard. In 2009, its revenue fell 37% to $32.4 billion from $51.3 billion in 2008. But the Peoria, Ill.-based maker of distinctive yellow construction and mining equipment is now thriving, no small feat in a shrinking sector. U.S. manufacturing now represents just 11.2% of the nation’s GDP, down from 14.2% in 2000 and from its peak of 28.3% in 1953.

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