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Manufacturing Industry Statistics

Applied Economics in US Manufacturing

Assembly Plant
Photo Credit: The Chrysler 200 Factory Tour, an interactive online experience using Google Maps Business View technology, takes consumers inside the new 5-million-square-foot Sterling Heights Assembly Plant for a behind-the-scenes peek at how the 2015 Chrysler 200 is built.

There are three primary aspects of examining U.S. manufacturing statistics on competitiveness: (1) how the U.S. industry compares to other countries, (2) the trends in the domestic industry, and (3) the industry trends compared to those in other countries. NIST Advanced Manufacturing Series 100-42 provides statistics on these aspects. Below are highlights from this publication. Due to the necessity to use a selection of datasets, there may be minor discrepancies between various statistics. Additional data and statistics can be estimated using NIST’s Manufacturing Cost Guide.

Manufacturing in Brief

Some brief figures on U.S. manufacturing include the following:

  • In 2020, Manufacturing contributed $2269.2 to U.S. GDP amounting to 10.8 % of total GDP.
    • Including direct and indirect (i.e., purchases from other industries) value added, manufacturing contributed an estimated 24 % of GDP.
  • In 2019, U.S. manufacturing imported 14.7 % of its intermediate goods/services, resulting in 10.7 % of the output being of foreign origin.
  • According to the Current Population Survey, there were 15.7 million employees in U.S. manufacturing, representing 10 % of total U.S. employment
  • Manufacturing accounted for 76.6% of total U.S. environmental impact according to NIST’s Manufacturing Cost Guide
  • Average compensation in U.S. manufacturing is 10.2 % higher than that for total private industry


  • 2000’s Recession
    • Value Added
      • Between the 4th quarter of 2007 to the 1st quarter of 2009 manufacturing declined 15.2 % and only recently returned to its pre-recession peak level in 2017.
      • Manufacturing value added declined more than total U.S. GDP, creating a persistent gap.
      • First quarter GDP in 2021 is 29.2 % above its 2005 level while manufacturing is at 21.5 % above its 2005 level.  
    • Employment
      • Between January 2005 and January 2010, manufacturing employment declined by 19.6 %.
      • As of January 2020, employment was still 10.3 % below its 2005 level.
  • 2020 Economy
    • Value Added
      • Between the 4th quarter of 2019 to the 2nd quarter of 2020
        • Total GDP declined 10.1 %
        • Manufacturing value added declined 12.2 %
    • Employment
      • Between January 2019 and April of 2020, manufacturing employment declined 12.4 %
      • Manufacturing employment declined to 19.9 % below 2005 levels, which is near the same levels as the late 2000’s recession
      • There are a substantial number of job openings in manufacturing as seen in Figure 4.1. If these openings were filled, it would raise employment above pre-pandemic levels and would equate to a 7 % increase in manufacturing employment
Figure 2.7 from AMS 100-42: Cumulative Percent Change in Value Added (2012 Chained Dollars)
Figure 4.1 from AMS 100-42: Cumulative Change in Percent in Manufacturing Employment (Seasonally Adjusted), 2005-2021

Manufacturing Growth

  • US compound real (i.e., controlling for inflation) annual growth between 1994 and 2019 (i.e., 25-year growth) was 2.4 %, which places the U.S. below the 50th percentile.
  • The compound annual growth for the U.S. between 2014 and 2019 (i.e., 5-year growth) was 1.9 %. This puts the U.S. just above the 25th percentile.
Figure 2.2 from AMS 100-42: National 5-Year Compound Annual Growth, by Country (2014 to 2019): Higher is Better

Manufacturing Industry Size

  • US manufacturing value added, as measured in constant 2015 dollars, is the second largest behind that of China.
  • Among the ten largest manufacturing countries, the U.S. is the 4th largest manufacturing value added per capita. Out of all countries the most recent U.S. rank is 14th
  • The U.S. ranks 1st in 7 manufacturing industries out of 16 total, while China was the largest for the other industries, as seen in Figure 2.6.
Figure 2.6 from AMS 100-42: Global Manufacturing Value Added by Industry, Top Five Producers and Rest of World (ROW) (2015) – 64 Countries


  • The five-year annual compound growth in labor productivity is -0.4 %.  
  • The five-year annual compound growth in multifactor productivity is -0.8 %.
  • The U.S. is ranked seventh in output per hour among 133 countries using data from the Conference Board ​​​​​​​
Figure 4.8 from AMS 100-42: Manufacturing Multifactor Productivity Index (2012 Base Year = 100)

Economic Environment

There is no agreed upon measure for examining the environment for research, innovation, and other factors for doing business, but there are a number of common measures, which are discussed below.

  • The ranking of the U.S. in these measures is a mixed bag, ranking high in some and low in others.
  • The U.S. ranks
    • 4th in patent applications
    • 8th in research and development expenditures as a percent of GDP
    • 19th in researchers per million people
    • 22nd in journal article publications per capita.
  • Competitiveness indexes
    • The IMD World Competitiveness Index, which measures competitiveness for conducting business, ranked the U.S. 10th  
    • The World Economic Forum, which assesses the competitiveness in determining productivity, ranked the U.S. 2nd
    • The Deloitte Global Manufacturing Index ranks China 1st and the U.S. 2nd.
    • The Competitive Industrial Performance Index, which measures capacity to produce and export manufactured goods; technological deepening and upgrading; and world impact, ranked the U.S. 4th. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Figure 5.7 from AMS 100-42: IMD World Competitiveness Rankings for 20 factors for the U.S.: Lower is Better (i.e., a Rank of 1 is Better than a Rank of 60)
Figure 5.8 from AMS 100-42: World Economic Forum 2019 Global Competitiveness Index - U.S. Pillar Rankings: Lower is Better

Types of Goods Produced

The largest manufacturing subsector in the U.S. is chemical manufacturing, followed by computer and electronic products and food, beverage, and tobacco products, as seen in Figure 2.13. Discrete technology products accounted for 36 % of U.S. manufacturing.

Figure 2.11 from AMS 100-42: Value Added for Durable Goods by Type (constant dollars), 2005-2020
Figure 2.12 from AMS 100-42: Value Added for Nondurable Goods by Type (constant dollars, billions), 2005-2020

Manufacturing Safety, Compensation, and Profit

  • Compensation
    • As seen in Figure 4.5, employee compensation, which includes benefits, has had a five-year compound annual growth of -1.2 %.
  • Profit
    • Nonfarm proprietors’ income for manufacturing has had a five-year compound annual growth rate of -4.3 %.
    • Corporate profits have had a five-year compound annual growth of -5.8 %.
  • Safety
    • Fatalities have a five-year compound growth rate of -0.8 %.
    • Injuries have a five-year compound growth rate of -2.7 %.
  • The injury rate has a five-year compound growth rate of -3.8 %


For more information, please see NIST AMS 100-42 and the Manufacturing Cost Guide.



Created January 24, 2020, Updated November 2, 2021