Facts About Manufacturing

The Top 18 Facts You Need to Know


1. Manufacturers contributed a record $2.89 trillion at the annual rate to the U.S. economy in Q4 2023.

Manufacturing value-added output increased from $2.853 trillion at the annual rate in Q3 to $2.886 trillion in Q4, an all-time high. Value-added output also rose to new record levels in Q4 for both durable goods (up from $1.547 trillion to $1.576 trillion) and nondurable goods (up from $1.306 trillion to $1.310 trillion). Manufacturing accounted for 10.3% of value-added output in the U.S. economy in 2023. At the same time, real value-added output in the manufacturing sector set a new record high, increasing from $2.313 trillion at the annual rate in Q3 to $2.360 trillion in Q4, as expressed in chained 2017 dollars. This figure exceeds the record high set in Q4 2021, $2.314 trillion, which continues to suggest that some of the gain in value-added output has come from higher prices. In Q4, real value-added output rose for both durable goods (up from $1.326 trillion to $1.346 trillion) and nondurable goods (up from $0.993 trillion to $1.021 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 May 2024.

Manufacturing employment rose slightly by 8,000 in May. Job growth in the sector has been more sluggish over the past year, on a month-by-month basis, yet remains well above pre-pandemic levels with 12,965,000 manufacturing employees in May 2024. Pre-pandemic (2017-2019) the sector averaged 12,648,000 employees per month.

At the same time, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 272,000 in May, up from 165,000 in April. The unemployment rate increased to 4.0%, with the number of unemployed Americans increasing from 6,492,000 to 6,649,000. The labor force participation rate decreased slightly from 62.7% in April to 62.5% in May. (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 rose 0.3% to $27.54 in April, with 5.8% growth over the past 12 months. For all manufacturing employees, average hourly earnings were $33.61 in March, up 4.8% 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 516,000 manufacturing job openings in April 2024.

There were 516,000 manufacturing job openings in April, down from a revised 546,000 in March. There were fewer postings in both the durable goods and the nondurable goods sectors. While manufacturing job openings are still above pre-pandemic levels, there is significant easing in the job market for both manufacturing and across the broader economy. 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 fell from 8,335,000 in March to 8,059,000 in April. There were 6,649,000 unemployed Americans reported in May. Therefore, for every 100 job openings in the U.S. economy, there were 82.5 unemployed workers. As such, there continued to be significantly more job openings than people actively looking for work. One year ago, there were only 61.8 unemployed workers for every 100 open jobs.

8. By 2034, 3.8 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed.

Over the next decade, 3.8 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 1.9 million are expected to be unfilled if we do not inspire more people to pursue modern manufacturing careers. Of open jobs, 2.8 million will come from retirement and 760,000 from industry growth; an estimated 230,000 jobs will be created from recent legislative and regulatory actions. Meanwhile, attracting and retaining talent is the primary business challenge indicated by more than 65% of respondents in the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the first quarter of 2024. (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 seventh-largest economy in the world.

Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the seventh-largest economy in the world. With $2.60 trillion in value added from manufacturing in 2022, only six other nations (including the U.S.) would rank higher in terms of their GDP. Those other nations with higher GDP in 2022 were (in order) the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, India and the United Kingdom. After manufacturing in the U.S., the next five economies would be France, Russia, Canada, Italy and Brazil, 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 2022, 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 .1% from $222.42 billion in February to $222.59 billion in March. Manufacturing construction has soared dramatically in the past 12 months, up 25.8% 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).