U.S. Manufacturing is the driving force behind the steady economic growth, competitive advantage, innovation and high quality of life in our homeland. It has played a key role in shaping and developing the U.S. economy throughout the history of the nation, especially after the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700’s.
Family owned GreenLeaf Industries is a plastic injection molding company that is passionate about promoting the strength and financial value of using U.S. manufacturing. At times, even American businesses will overlook the vast improvements made by American owned manufacturing companies, the majority of whom (99%) are small businesses with less than 500 employees. These “small” manufacturers have led productivity improvements and maintained the ability to provide an overall lower cost of ownership, in not only plastic injection molding, but many manufacturing sectors.
Simply defined, manufacturing is the process of transforming raw materials into new products, using mechanical, physical or chemical means. Without manufacturing, we wouldn’t have the tools and technologies needed to be productive in the other sectors of our economy, nor would we have the various goods that consumers use every day.
Sectors such as agriculture, construction and health care also rely heavily on the machinery and tools produced by manufacturers. And as for the health of the U.S. economy itself? Economists agree that the U.S. wouldn’t be the powerhouse of a country that is it today if not for the manufacturing sector.
In fact, without diving into the nitty gritty details, it can be difficult to put into perspective exactly how much of a lasting impact manufacturing has had on the U.S. economy over time. But hey, don’t take our word for it! Check out these 15 facts about U.S. manufacturing that simply can’t be ignored, and draw your own conclusions.
1. The most recent data shows that manufacturers have contributed $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy, compared to $1.7 trillion in 2009.
While this data tells us a number of things about the U.S. manufacturing sector, perhaps the most noteworthy is that manufacturing is experiencing an extremely healthy level of growth and development.
Following the 2008 recession, the entire U.S. economy–including manufacturing–experienced a lull in production and profitability. Recovery was slow the following year, and has remained slow for certain industries. The good news? As long as manufacturing remains strong and on the rise, it can continue to contribute positively to the economy overall, and to play a supporting role for the other sectors that haven’t quite caught up.
That’s because manufacturing is directly linked to both overall economic growth and growth associated with nonmanufacturing industries. One of the biggest reasons for this is manufacturing’s high multiplier effect, which we’ll dive into later.
2. Manufacturing accounts for 12% of the U.S. economy. For comparison, agriculture accounts for just 4.8%.
Given that the overall GDP of the United States is $17.419 trillion, and that manufacturing alone contributed $2.17 trillion to that amount, that means manufacturing accounts for roughly 12.5% of the U.S. economy. This makes sense, given that GDP is based on the amount of production (i.e. manufacturing) taking place in a given country.
As we’ve already discussed, this number is steadily increasing within the manufacturing sector. That’s a good thing, because more manufacturing means more GDP (which means more total prosperity). According to the USDA, agriculture–which is also considered to be a major industry–has contributed $835 billion to the U.S. GDP. That’s roughly 4.8% of the economy, much less than the figure represented by manufacturing. Additionally, large-scale agriculture wouldn’t even be possible without manufacturing! The agriculture sector relies heavily on the machinery produced by manufacturers, including tractors, fertilizer application equipment, and planting and harvesting machinery.
3. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, $1.40 is added to the economy. This is the highest multiplier of any sector.
The importance of this fact simply can’t be overstated. A strong manufacturing sector is the key to a strong national economy. Why? Manufacturing is the primary path to development, as both highly developed countries (such as the U.S.) and rapidly developing countries (such as China) have shown.
Globally, the U.S. depends on the goods produced by manufacturing to trade with other countries. This includes products such as computers, primary metals, and medical equipment. Without having these goods available to trade, our economy would suffer. The fact that manufacturing has the highest multiplier of any U.S. sector shows that we are investing our resources in the right (i.e. most productive and profitable) way.
Simply put, the more money we put into manufacturing, the more return on investment we’ll see in our economy.
4. Most manufacturing firms are small. 99% have less than 500 employees, 75% of which have less than 20 employees.
Why does this matter? Small firms contribute to the local economy and community where the business is established by creating job opportunities and growth. They also contribute to the greater national economy by creating employment opportunities for individuals who may not be able to work at a larger firm, due to location restrictions, work style preferences, or other factors. Our very own GreenLeaf Industries fits in this category.
Despite having less than 500 employees, GreenLeaf Industries has been able to contribute quality custom injection molding parts to World Class automobile companies and yanked (pun intended) valuable part production back to the States and create jobs. It’s happening all over the U.S. Make sure your company understands why companies are reshoring and looking at the total cost of owning certain parts and products (TCO).
Additionally, it’s safe to assume that each firm has its own unique systems, ideas, goals, and workplace environments. That also means they have their own ways of approaching efficiency, quality, and safety. In other words, a large number of small firms generate more diversity in processes and ideas than a small number of large firms.
This diversity lends itself to innovation, which is a superb outcome for both the manufacturing sector and the U.S. economy as a whole.
5. There are over 12 million manufacturing workers in the U.S. That’s about 9% of the workforce.
Following the 2008 recession, employment numbers across all sectors dropped dramatically. As with other industries, manufacturing was hit hard and experienced a drop in employment. Despite this, manufacturing remains one of the largest industries in terms of number of workers.
This data showcases the hardiness and resilience of the manufacturing sector, and confirms the importance of manufacturing in terms of overall employment opportunities. These figures are especially impressive when you consider the diversity in education levels and skill sets among manufacturing workers, from unskilled to highly skilled laborers.
Additionally, according to the Economic Policy Institute, each manufacturing job supports nearly three other jobs in the economy. In this sense, those 12 million manufacturing jobs are actually supporting a huge portion of the total U.S. workforce.
For example, let’s say a manufacturer produces an automobile engine. A separate factory worker would be needed to assemble the automobile using that engine. Then, a salesperson would be able to sell that car to a consumer or business. If the buyer of that car is a taxi or Uber driver, that’s yet another job that wouldn’t exist without that manufactured engine.
6. Over the next 10 years, 3.5 million manufacturing workers will likely be needed.
Despite the fact that manufacturing workers are compensated at above average rates for their work, manufacturing firms are still unable to fill job openings with skilled, qualified workers at a fast enough pace. While 3.5 million new manufacturing jobs are expected to open up over the next 10 years, a whopping 2 million of those jobs are expected to remain unfilled.
Even today, manufacturers are finding it difficult to hire the number of skilled employees necessary for keeping up with the ever-increasing demand for manufactured goods. In fact, 80% currently say that they have a shortage of qualified workers applying for skilled and highly skilled manufacturing roles.
To combat this deficit, it’s critical for manufacturing firms to offer increasingly competitive compensation, formal company-funded training, and other benefits. If these workforce statistics do not improve, it could prove detrimental to the future of U.S. economic growth.
Read 9 additional facts about manufacturing in the U.S. here.
About GreenLeaf: GreenLeaf Industries is an ISO 9001 registered manufacturer that consistently adheres to all its standards to provide our clients with consistent, reliable, quality automotive and industrial plastic parts.
We are an American injection molding company, unafraid to compete in the world market and determined to succeed. Established in 1999, we take pride in our high-quality craftsmanship and superior customer service. Contact us to discuss whether your injection molding project may be a candidate for reshoring.
310 Bussell Ferry Road
Lenoir City, TN 37771