The Importance of U.S. Manufacturing

01. The U.S. Manufacturing Sector Is the Tenth-Largest Economy

Conventional wisdom holds the manufacturing industry in low esteem. The popular perception—as amplified by the media and casual observations at big-box stores—is that almost nothing gets made in the United States, and it doesn't help that the Great Recession accounted for millions of manufacturing job losses.
Yet the facts support a different view. Industrial output continues to grow, manufactured products are globally competitive, and the rebound from the recession surprised on the upside.
In 2012, manufacturers generated almost $1.9 trillion worth of value-added. Some sectors, such as electronics, computers, and related hardware, expanded at a very fast clip. Others lost ground to changing tastes and technology (think typewriters and payphones). In the 20 years ending in 2012, manufacturing output increased more than 83 percent.
The U.S. manufacturing sector is so huge that if it were its own country, it would rank as the tenth-largest world economy. The United States produces the most goods and services overall as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), and is far ahead of second-place China. Other countries, such as Japan and Germany, showed less growth buoyancy over the past decade compared with the United States. On the other hand, emerging economies such as Brazil, India, and Mexico grew very quickly and are catching up with the developed world. Still, American manufacturers account for a larger volume of production than the entire GDP of India, Canada, or Korea.

To Economic Growth


The U.S. Manufacturing Sector Is the Ninth-Largest Economy


Chemicals Lead Manufacturing in Terms of Output But Not Employment


Manufacturing's Multiplier Effect Is Stronger Than Other Sectors'


Manufacturing Sector Profitability Is Cyclical


Manufacturing Has Improved Living Standards


Manufacturing Drives Productivity Growth


Manufacturing Sector's Falling Unit Labor Costs Increase Global Competitiveness


The Trend in Spending on Goods Depends on the Measure


Investment in Equipment and Software Drives Demand for Manufacturing


Small Companies Dominate the Industrial Landscape


Domestically Manufactured Goods Are Used Throughout the U.S. Economy


Manufacturing Makes a Positive Contribution to Most State Economies


Business Is the Largest Source of State and Local Funding