The Top 18 Facts You Need to Know


1. Manufacturers contributed a record $2.85 trillion at the annual rate to the U.S. economy in Q3 2023.

Manufacturing value-added output increased from $2.751 trillion at the annual rate in Q2 to $2.853 trillion in Q3, an all-time high. Value-added output also rose to new record levels in Q3 for both durable goods (up from $1.514 trillion to $1.547 trillion) and nondurable goods (up from $1.237 trillion to $1.306 trillion). Manufacturing accounted for 10.3% of value-added output in the U.S. economy in 2022. At the same time, real value-added output in the manufacturing sector increased from $2.262 trillion at the annual rate in Q2 to $2.313 trillion in Q3, as expressed in chained 2017 dollars. This figure was not far from the record high set in Q4 2021, which was $2.314 trillion, suggesting that at least some of the gain in value-added output (which hit a record high) has come from higher prices. In Q3, real value-added output rose for both durable goods (up from $1.313 trillion to $1.326 trillion) and nondurable goods (up from $0.957 trillion to $0.993 trillion). (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis)

2. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, there is a total impact of $2.69 to the overall economy.

Including indirect and induced impacts, for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, there is a total impact of $2.69 to the overall U.S. economy. This figure represents one of the largest sectoral multipliers in the economy. In addition, for every one worker in manufacturing, 4.8 workers are added in the overall U.S. economy, including indirect and induced impacts, and for every $1.00 earned in direct labor income in the manufacturing sector, $3.99 in labor income earned is added to the overall U.S. economy. (Source: NAM calculations using 2022 IMPLAN data)

3. The majority of manufacturing firms in the United States are quite small.

The majority of manufacturing firms in the United States are quite small. In 2021, there were 238,851 firms in the manufacturing sector, with all but 3,920 firms considered to be small (i.e., having fewer than 500 employees). In fact, three-quarters of these firms have fewer than 20 employees, and 93.4% have fewer than 100 employees. With that said, the bulk of employment comes from larger firms, with 59.0% of all employees in the sector working for firms with 500 or more employees. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses)

4. There were nearly 13 million manufacturing workers in January 2024.

Manufacturing employment increased by 23,000 in January, rising from the gain of 6,000 in December. Job growth in the sector has been more sluggish over the past year, adding just 22,000 workers on net in 2023. Nevertheless, manufacturing employment has remained resilient, hovering near 13 million workers all year, with 12,979,000 in January, the most since November 2008.

At the same time, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 353,000 in January, up from 216,000 in December. The U.S. economy has added 2,697,000 workers in 2023, a solid pace despite slowing from 4,793,000 in 2022. The unemployment rate remained at 3.7%, with the number of unemployed Americans little changed, declining from 6,268,000 to 6,124,000. With that said, the labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.5% for the second straight month, down from 62.8% in November 2023. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

5. Manufacturing employees earned $98,846 on average in 2022, including pay and benefits.

In 2022, manufacturing workers in the United States earned $98,846 on average, including pay and benefits. Workers in all private nonfarm industries earned $83,992 on average. Looking specifically at wages, the average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers in manufacturing jumped 0.3% to $27.22 in January, with 5.3% growth over the past 12 months. Wages continue to rise strongly despite some softening in overall manufacturing hiring over the past year. For all manufacturing employees, average hourly earnings were $33.26 in January, up 5.0% year-over-year. (Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics)

6. In 2023, 93% of manufacturing employees were eligible for health insurance benefits.

Manufacturers have one of the highest percentages of workers who are eligible for health benefits provided by their employer. Indeed, 93% of manufacturing employees were eligible for health insurance benefits in 2023, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is significantly higher than the 79% average for all firms. Of those who are eligible, 79% participate in their employer’s plans (i.e., the take-up rate). State and local government (90%), transportation, communications and utilities (88%) and finance (81%) had higher take-up rates in 2023. Meanwhile, the average annual cost of a family health care plan for a family of four in manufacturing was $24,156 in 2023. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, Employer Health Benefits 2023 Annual Survey)

7. There were 601,000 manufacturing job openings in December 2023.

There were 601,000 manufacturing job openings in December, up from 553,000 in November and a three-month high. There were more postings in the durable goods sector but fewer in the nondurable goods sector. This data continues to reflect a labor market that remains solid despite notable cooling over the past year, with manufacturing job openings still above pre-pandemic levels (but that gap is narrowing). In 2023, manufacturing job openings averaged 622,000, down from 853,000 in 2022. For a pre-pandemic comparison, the average number of job openings in the sector in the 2017–2019 period was 432,000.

In the larger economy, nonfarm business job openings rose from 8,925,000 in November to 9,026,000 in December. There were 6,268,000 unemployed Americans reported in December. Therefore, for every 100 job openings in the U.S. economy, there were 69.4 unemployed workers. As such, there continued to be significantly more job openings than people actively looking for work, even as that ratio narrowed notably in 2023. (It was nearly a 2-to-1 ratio one year ago.)

Meanwhile, the number of manufacturing quits decreased to 203,000 in December, the slowest pace since July 2020. August’s reading of 230,000 was the slowest in three years, and the current quit level remained not far from that pace. This is a sign that churn, which has been a major issue for manufacturers amid a tight labor market, has eased significantly. In fact, the average number of quits per month in the 2017–2019 period was also 203,000, suggesting that churn has returned to a pre-pandemic pace in the sector. At the same time, nonfarm payroll quits declined to 3,392,000, a level not seen since January 2021, also approaching pre-pandemic levels. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

8. By 2030, 4 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed.

Over the next decade, 4 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2.1 million are expected to go unfilled if we do not inspire more people to pursue modern manufacturing careers. Moreover, according to a recent report, the cost of those missing jobs could potentially total $1 trillion in 2030 alone. (Source: Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute)

9. U.S.-manufactured goods exports totaled roughly $1.6 trillion in 2022.

After weakening in 2019 and 2020 on trade policy and COVID-19 challenges, trade volumes rebounded in 2021 and 2022, with U.S.-manufactured goods exports hitting a new record level. In 2022, manufacturers in the United States exported $1,596.79 billion, with durable and nondurable goods exports also hitting all-times highs, at $970.97 billion and $625.82 billion, respectively. (Source: U.S. Commerce Department)

10. Manufactured goods exports have grown substantially over the past couple decades.

Manufactured goods exports have more than doubled over the past two decades. U.S.-manufactured goods exports totaled $622.31 billion in 2002, and in 2021, that figure is $1,399.17 billion, or 2.25 times larger. Nondurable goods exports have grown even faster over that time frame, up from $171.26 billion in 2002 to $521.10 in 2021, or 3.04 times larger. Meanwhile, durable goods exports have nearly doubled from $451.05 billion in 2002 to $878.07 billion to 2021. (Source: U.S. Commerce Department)

11. World trade in manufactured goods grew to nearly $15.3 trillion in 2022.

World trade in manufactured goods continued to expand rapidly, rising from $14.87 trillion in 2021 to $15.29 trillion in 2022.That figure has risen from $4.67 trillion in 2000 and $12.14 trillion in 2010. The U.S. share of world trade in manufactured goods was 7.8% in 2022. (Source: World Trade Organization)

12. Manufacturing in the U.S. would be the eighth-largest economy in the world.

Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the eighth-largest economy in the world.With $2.50 trillion in value added from manufacturing in 2021, only seven other nations (including the U.S.) would rank higher in terms of their GDP. Those other nations with higher GDP in 2020 were (in order) the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and France. After manufacturing in the U.S., the next five economies would be Italy, Canada, South Korea, Russia and Australia, in that order. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, International Monetary Fund)

13. Foreign direct investment in the U.S. was nearly $2.3 trillion in 2022.

Foreign direct investment in U.S. manufacturing reached a new record level in 2022.Overall, foreign direct investment has jumped from $756.87 billion in 2010 to $2,299.18 billion in 2021, a new record. The manufacturing sector comprised 42.4% of total foreign direct investment in 2022, as expressed on a historical cost basis. These data should continue to grow over the coming years, with the sector increasingly more competitive globally and with more companies reevaluating their supply chain and renewing their investments in the United States. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis)

14. Private manufacturing construction spending remains near record levels.

Private manufacturing construction rose 0.9% from $204.47 billion at the annual rate in September to a record $206.34 billion in October. Manufacturing construction has soared dramatically, up 71.6% year-over-year, as the sector continues to make significant increases in capacity in the United States, spurred by industrial policy and a desire to produce more goods here. This should bode well for future growth in manufacturing activity in the U.S. moving forward. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

15. U.S. affiliates of foreign multinational firms employed more than 2.8 million manufacturing workers.

U.S. affiliates of foreign multinational enterprises employed more than 2.8 million manufacturing workers in the United States in 2021, or roughly 22.8% of total employment in the sector. In 2021, the most recent year with data, manufacturing sectors with the largest employment from foreign multinationals included motor vehicles and parts (512,700), chemicals (425,900, including 232,300 in pharmaceuticals and medicines), food (334,400), machinery (252,700), other manufacturing (226,200) and computers and electronic products (211,100). Total compensation in the manufacturing sectors from these affiliates was $274.1 billion, and those entities spent nearly $56.0 billion in research and development. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Activities of U.S. Affiliates of Foreign Multinational Enterprises, 2021)

16. Manufacturers perform 53% of all private-sector R&D.

Manufacturers in the United States perform 53.0% of all private-sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector. R&D in the manufacturing sector has risen from $132.5 billion in 2000 to a record $361.2 billion in 2022. In the most recent data, pharmaceuticals accounted for one-third of all manufacturing R&D, spending $120.3 billion in 2022. Semiconductor and other electronic components (15.9%), other computer and electronic manufacturing (14.6%) and motor vehicles and parts (8.9%) also contributed significantly to R&D spending in 2022, with each hitting new all-time high levels of R&D for the year. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis)

17. Manufacturers consume one-third of the nation’s energy.

Industrial users consumed 33.25 quadrillion Btu of energy in 2022, or 33.5% of the total. Moreover, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that industrial users will consume 34.21 quadrillion Btu of energy in 2030, or 2.9% more than in 2022. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2023)

18. The cost of federal regulations falls disproportionately on manufacturers.

The cost of federal regulations falls disproportionately on manufacturers, particularly those that are smaller. Manufacturers pay $29,100 per employee on average to comply with federal regulations, or nearly double the $12,800 per employee costs borne by all firms as a whole. The burden is even greater for small manufacturers in the U.S., or those with fewer than 50 employees, which incur the highest regulatory costs of all U.S. firms: an estimated $50,100 per employee per year. Overall, the total cost of complying with federal regulations in 2022 was $3.079 trillion (in 2023 dollars). (Source: The Cost of Federal Regulation to the U.S. Economy, Manufacturing and Small Business, October 2023).