Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Current State of Manufacturing

Manufacturing worker on the production floor
Author
James Manyika, Katy George, Eric Chewning, Jonathan Woetzel, Hans-Werner Kaas

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored manufacturing’s role in providing products that are critical to health, safety, national security, and the continuity of multiple industries. It has also revealed the extent to which global supply chains are exposed to shocks and disruptions. All of this has occurred at a moment when new technologies, process innovations, and demand growth are reshaping the sector worldwide.

IMEC, Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, Technology and Manufacturing Association, and the Valley Industrial Association have partnered with the W.E Upjohn Institute for Employment Research to hear directly from small and medium-sized manufacturers about what was driving technology adoption, how they are implementing it, challenges they face, the benefits and opportunities of advanced manufacturing technologies, and how workforce development needs are changing due to technology adoption.

The New York State MEP plays a vital role in the state helping fuel growth for both established companies and startups. The 10 regional MEP Centers and the statewide MEP Center provide services including training on manufacturing principles, aiding in cybersecurity certification, obtaining funds/grants for business investment, helping connect manufacturers to suppliers and customers – all to help drive success for New York’s manufacturers and technology companies.

MAGNET’s report, Make It Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio brings together insights from hundreds of manufacturing CEOs, community and business leaders, academics, workers, students and nonprofit leaders, with a vision to revitalize Northeast Ohio as a leader in smart manufacturing, create thousands of jobs and transform the industry.

The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) announced this new book which is described as a guide and valuable resource to help manufacturing companies become successful competitors on the global stage. Within the book, readers gather insights from leaders from Illinois-based companies such as Motorola, Watchfire Signs, and Ace Metal Crafts. Some of the subjects covered include the value of customer relationships, and integrating technology for greater process innovation.

Author
James Manyika, Katy George, Eric Chewning, Jonathan Woetzel, Hans-Werner Kaas

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored manufacturing’s role in providing products that are critical to health, safety, national security, and the continuity of multiple industries. It has also revealed the extent to which global supply chains are exposed to shocks and disruptions. All of this has occurred at a moment when new technologies, process innovations, and demand growth are reshaping the sector worldwide.

Author
Marc Jarsulic

There are two major challenges facing U.S. manufacturing. The first is building competitiveness with global manufacturers, especially for small- and medium-sized U.S. enterprises (SMEs), and the second is overcoming strategic risks to health care, national defense, and other areas where the United States depends on global supply chains.

Author
IndustryWeek, OnRamp Manufacturing Conference

The findings in this research report demonstrate opportunities for more strategic alliances, including third-party investments and partnerships. This is particularly true for smaller firms and startups as they try to keep pace with larger competitors in 2021 and beyond.

Author
Heartland Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has had overwhelming impacts on our economy, not to mention the impact on lives and personal wellness. The critical lack of medical equipment to treat and protect those affected highlights the over-reliance of United States manufacturing sector on overseas production. The offshoring issue extends beyond current pandemic concerns, however, reaching far larger and more permanent concerns over industrial supply chains, worker training and even national security.

Author
UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies

The report details how, despite the pandemic’s profound impacts on manufacturing, MEP Centers are helping manufacturers safely operate and meet the nation’s critical needs for personal protective equipment (PPE).

Author
International Trade Administration

The International Trade Administration, as well as other organizations, publishes a variety of trade-related statistics and tools for public use.

Author
Ball State University

The Manufacturing Scorecard shows how each state ranks among its peers in several categories that are of particular interest to site selection experts for the manufacturing and logistics industries.

Author
Désirée Rückert, Reinhilde Veugelers, Christoph Weiss

Using the EIBIS Digital and Skills Survey on digitalisation activities of firms in the EU and the US, this study confirms the trend toward a growing digital divide in the corporate landscape with, on one side, many firms that are not digitally active, and on the other side, a substantial number of digitally active firms forging ahead. Old small firms, with less than 50 employees and more than 10 years old, are significantly more likely to be persistently digitally non-active.

Author
World Economic Forum

The COVID-19 global crisis continues to disrupt manufacturing and global supply chains with severe consequences for society, businesses, consumers and the global economy. This has raised new and unprecedented questions on the level of resilience of global value chains and the overall approach to manufacturing. The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Kearney, brought together C-level executives from different industry sectors to identify best responses to the current COVID-19 crisis.

Author
IU Manufacturing Policy Initiative, Hudson Institute

The IU Manufacturing Policy Initiative, in partnership with the Hudson Institute, organized a spring 2020 conference, to bring together leading thinkers to identify concerning trends and discuss policies that will enable domestic manufacturing to remain internationally competitive. The conference was postponed due to the emerging pandemic. Four academic papers from noted experts were commissioned for this conference. Taken together, these four papers describe weaknesses in U.S. manufacturing cap

Author
Anna Waldman-Brown

This paper explores how small factory owners in Ohio conceptualize automation. Due to the risk of replacing entire production processes and the still-relevant capabilities of old equipment, the firms interviewed for this study primarily automated in order to complement rather than replace existing technologies.

Author
MForesight

The purpose of this report is to help SMMs focus on realistic objectives achievable with appropriate implementation of digital technologies to cut costs, improve existing processes, and lay the groundwork for continued progress. It is also important to recognize that the biggest hurdles to effective implementation are not likely to be technical, but rather managerial and cultural.

Author
Ball State University

The 2019 Manufacturing and Logistics National Report shows how each state ranks among its peers in several areas of the economy that underlie the success of manufacturing and logistics. These specific measures include: manufacturing and logistics industry health, human capital, cost of worker benefits, diversification of the industries, state-level productivity and innovation, expected fiscal liability, tax climate, and global reach.

Author
World Economic Forum

This report is the result of a collaboration between members of the World Economic Forum Council on Advanced Manufacturing and Production. It summarizes the main findings of work conducted on the application of advanced manufacturing and digital technologies on future production and supply-chain models. The applications set out in this paper highlight the importance of collaborations across supply-chain.

Author
Paul Wellener, Ben Dollar, Steve Shepley, Stephen Laaper, Heather Ashton, David Beckoff

In this article, Deloitte discusses how smart factory initiatives could have a significant impact on manufacturing productivity.

Author
Robert D. Atkinson AND Stephen J. Ezell, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

For manufacturing enterprises, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) will reshape the source of value creation, the formation of new business models, and the delivery of value-added services such as mass customization, predictive maintenance, and “product servitization”. As AI becomes more prevalent in various aspects of business management and operations, investing in people will become even more important.

Author
Josh Bivens

This policy memo focuses on one major economic argument in favor of increased infrastructure investment—that it would increase demand for American manufactured goods and, in turn, generate American manufacturing jobs. As this memo shows, more jobs will be created if policymakers take steps to reduce the yawning U.S. trade deficit that allows jobs to “leak” outside the U.S. economy as U.S. spending increases.

Author
Sridhar Kota, Thomas C. Mahoney

This MForesight report identifies fundamental weaknesses in U.S. manufacturing and the risks these weaknesses pose for long-term wealth and security. It emphasizes the need for concerted national action to rebuild and restore manufacturing skills, capabilities, and productive capacity. The problems have developed over decades but have become worse with time, now reaching the point where we have lost the ability to scale emerging technologies because of a weak industrial commons.

Author
Anthony P. Carnevale, Neil Ridley, Ban Cheah, Jeff Strohl, Kathryn Peltier Campbell

The glory days of American manufacturing in the 1970s—when workers with a high school diploma or less held 79% of the industry’s jobs—will not return. By 2016, these workers made up just 43% of the manufacturing workforce. Upskilling and Downsizing in American Manufacturing finds that workers with postsecondary now outnumber workers with a high school diploma or less in manufacturing. 

Author
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

The Way We Were: The Changing Geography of US Manufacturing from 1940 to 2016 explores how manufacturing has lost ground in many places and is now the largest employer in only two states.

Author
BDO

The Fourth Industrial Revolution—Industry 4.0—calls into question the very definition of manufacturing, blurring the lines between tangible and intangible, digital and physical, product and service. At its core, Industry 4.0 redefines how manufacturers derive and deliver value. According to BDO’s 2019 Middle Market Industry 4.0 Benchmarking Survey, 99 percent of middle market manufacturing executives today are at least moderately familiar with Industry 4.0.

Author
Manufacturing Policy Initiative School of Public and Environmental Affairs Indiana University

Smart manufacturing depends critically on information governance: rules (formal and informal) concerning the collection, flow, and analysis of information, often in digital form. To explore information governance issues in depth, the Manufacturing Policy Initiative at Indiana University hosted a roundtable event in Washington, DC, with executives from nearly 20 manufacturers. Policy experts from academia were asked to contribute to papers on specific topics including AI in manufacturing.

Author
World Economic Forum

Many companies are piloting Fourth Industrial Revolution initiatives in manufacturing, but few have managed to integrate Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies at scale to realize significant economic and financial benefits. The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, scanned more than 1,000 leading manufacturers. Subsequent outreach enabled visits to the most advanced sites and identification of the few factories that are true guiding lights.

Author
Stephen J. Ezell, Robert D. Atkinson, Dr. Inchul Kim, Jeahan Cho

This report first defines digital manufacturing technologies. It then assesses the potential productivity and economic benefits smart manufacturing can produce. It next examines the extent of manufacturing digitalization in the U.S. It finds first that data on the topic is sporadic, incomplete, and at this point primarily survey-based. Second, it finds that, for all manufacturing digitalization’s promise, U.S. manufacturers have been particularly slow to adopt digital manufacturing practices.

Author
National Center for the Middle Market

The growth of middle market manufacturing has brought both unique challenges and new opportunities. This new report serves to better understand the environmental conditions, challenges, and opportunities middle market manufacturers currently face; uncover what the best-performing middle market manufacturers are doing to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities; and present key findings and best practices manufacturers can use to navigate the shifting environment.

Author
Stephen Ezell

This report explains how digitalization is transforming manufacturing globally, detailing what exactly smart manufacturing (or “Industry 4.0”) is and examining the productivity impacts that digitalized manufacturing promises to deliver. The report examines the small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) manufacturing support programs and policies of ten nations—Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Author
Fran Stewart, Kathryn Kelley

Technological change, global competition, and a protracted economic downturn combined to usher in and hasten a new era in manufacturing. The digitally integrated factory, where machines are computer controlled, production is digitally connected to suppliers and customers, and all aspects of operation are constantly monitored and analyzed, requires workers with a new and emerging array of skills.

Author
Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, Manufacturing Extension Partnership

This report examines ten ongoing regional initiatives that support manufacturers. Drawing on a diverse group of individual case studies, the report identifies the key partners and their roles, the resources they accessed, the impact of the effort, and the prospects for the future. In particular, the case studies often note the many roles that the National Institute for Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) Centers are playing in the success of these efforts.

Author
Mark Barteau, Sridhar Kota

A country is only as strong as its capacity to build. Managed properly, the availability of low-cost shale gas could catalyze a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing, revitalizing the chemical industry and enhancing the global competitiveness of energy-intensive manufacturing sectors such as aluminum, steel, paper, glass, and food. This report summarizes and expands upon the University of Michigan-sponsored daylong Symposium "Shale Gas: A Game- Changer for American Manufacturing".

Author
Daniel Trombley

The manufacturing sector accounts for about a third of primary energy consumed in the U.S. While most of that effort has sought savings from large manufacturers, more energy efficiency programs are beginning to address the needs facing small to medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs). This report discusses barriers, opportunities, and solutions to designing energy efficiency programs that result in significant savings from smaller manufacturers.

Author
GreenBiz Group

The report shows how US companies are doing in 20 aspects of environmental performance- from operational efficiency to employee commuting to investments in clean technologies. A majority of the indicators showed declines that can be determined as a result from the recession. The report also highlights the top 10 sustainable business trends for 2012.

Author
Manufacturing Institute, MAPI, National Association of Manufacturers

The 2012 Edition of the Facts of Manufacturing is a collection of the key facts and figures that define the state of the U.S. manufacturing industry. The report provides 65 figures that show the importance of the manufacturing sector and challenges that our industry faces.