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Measuring Manufacturing’s Significance in the USA



Katherine C. Morris, Douglas S. Thomas


Economic value added is a primary metric for measuring manufacturing activity; however, this metric and others exclude approximately half of the economic activity necessary for producing manufactured goods. With the recent disruption in the supply of goods and services by the COVID-19 pandemic, the criticality of these supply chains to production has become more apparent. Measuring and understanding these additional activities is foundational to reducing the effect of supply chain disruption. Additionally, manufacturing supply chains are fundamental to any response to the virus, including the production of masks, tests, and eventually a vaccine. When looked at closely, manufacturing stands out as a key driver of our economy. New manufacturing technologies can be leveraged to differentiate products in multiple ways resulting in a greater variety of products made more efficiently, with less environmental impacts, and higher quality. In addition, the digitization of manufacturing supports supply chains that are more connected, anticipatory, and agile. Metrics are needed that better reflect the role manufacturing plays in society, that better identify the social gains manufacturing produces, and that better establish the total economic activity that drives production. In this paper we propose a macro-economic metric to better measure the influence of manufacturing on our economy as an example of one such measure. We argue a need for solidifying similar radical changes to our current ways of measuring manufacturing's relevance and emphasizing the impact of new technologies that support the manufacturing economic sector.
The ASTM Journal of Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing


manufacturing metrics, input output analysis, economic impact, manufacturing impact, economics, value added


Morris, K. and Thomas, D. (2020), Measuring Manufacturing’s Significance in the USA, The ASTM Journal of Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing, [online], (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created December 15, 2020, Updated December 11, 2020