5 Surprising Facts about U.S. Manufacturing

July 12, 2017 at 12:54 PMChad Moulder

 5 Surprising Facts About U.S. Manufacturing

American Welder in Action

In this week's post, we look at five surprising (and frankly, amazing) facts about the current state of the United States manufacturing industry. 

The Manufacturing Industry is the largest and most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy.

MarketWatch estimates that the gross output of US manufacturing accounts for roughly 36% of the nation's GDP or about $6.2 trillion dollars annually. This is nearly double any other sector such as government, real estate, and professional and business services. Even more surprising when one looks at the fact that the manufacturing industry accounts for only one out of every 11 jobs in the US.


U.S. Manufacturing is the world's 3rd largest economy on the planet.


US Manufacturing VS the World (chart)

According to the Manufacturing Institute, in the 20 years ending in 2012, manufacturing output increased more than 83 percent. This feat is even more impressive when one considers that the United states suffered not one but three major recessions including the "Great Recession" which lasted more than six years and a decline in US GDP of 5.1%. 


The Manufacturing Industry is leading the way on renewable energy.

Solar Array Mountain background

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the manufacturing industry used 2,269 BTUs of renewable energy, more than the three other sectors combined. Additionally, of all the sectors manufacturing was the only sector to reduce their CO2 emissions. In fact, between 1990 and 2012 the manufacturing industry has shrunk their CO2 footprint by 13%; no small feat. 


Manufacturing is investing heavily on research and development. 

Research and Development

Annually, the manufacturing sector invests roughly 3.9% of their total sales back into research and development. This is well above the 2.3% found in other industries. This forward-looking approach has yielded many boons for the economy and country in general and should also be credited with the push for greater STEM education as a means of protecting domestic economic security and creating a talented, competitive workforce.


The vast majority of manufacturing companies in the United States are actually very small.

Small Business Manufacturing

In 2014, there were 251,901 firms in the manufacturing sector, with all but 3,749 firms considered to be small (i.e., having fewer than 500 employees). In fact, three-quarters of these firms have fewer than 20 employees. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses)


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