What Is America’s Impact on Manufacturing in the Global Economy?

We’ve been hearing a lot about developments and advancements in U.S. manufacturing. Much of it is in the context of corporate America’s response to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. It’s a painful reality. For economic growth and stability, we need faster and more cost-efficient access to manufactured goods that are not made here but are essential to business continuity for so many U.S. industries, millions of businesses, and of course, the wants and needs of consumers.  

Here’s a more encouraging reality: Major transformations were afoot long before the pandemic hit our shores, with American manufacturers determined to reclaim U.S. dominance in global manufacturing and exports. The United States used to have the world’s largest manufacturing sector until the position was ceded to China in 2010; however, the contest is far from over! U.S. manufacturing, job growth, and exports are on the rise. 

In the words of John Murphy, senior vice president for International Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “American manufacturers are on a roll.” Here are a few stats he shared:  

  • Manufacturing has bounced back from the pandemic and today employs 12.6 million Americans with average earnings topping $30 per hour.  
  • American ‘exports’ of manufactured goods surpassed $1.13 trillion in 2021, a sum representing nearly half the sector’s total output. 
  • Nearly half of everything made in American factories is destined for consumers overseas. 
  • U.S. industrial production has risen by two-thirds in the past 30 years (inflation-adjusted).  

It gets better…  

“America is a manufacturing superpower”  

That’s how a recent Barron’s commentary defines U.S. manufacturing output, citing figures from the United Nations’ “International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics.” Here are some of those figures: Of the 22 manufacturing categories tracked by the U.N., the U.S. ranked first in six categories and second in 13 others, underscoring the breadth and competitiveness of American manufacturing. In only three sectors (apparel, motor vehicles, and leather) did the U.S. fail to rank either first or second. Between 2000 and 2019, America’s global manufacturing share edged higher in several sectors, including beverages, paper products, and refined petroleum products. Overlay America’s strengths in semiconductors, the authors said, and the overall health of U.S. manufacturing is relatively robust. 

Manufactured goods dominate international trade and trade is essential to the future of U.S. manufacturers and exporters. The world’s most important manufacturing industries produce aircraft, automobiles, chemicals, clothing, computers, consumer electronics, electrical equipment, furniture, heavy machinery, refined petroleum products, ships, steel, and tools and dies. The value of these manufactured products and the volume of international trade and exports are increasing across the world economy.  

The American manufacturing sector has made a huge impact on global manufacturing, not to mention the U.S. economy, and will continue to do so in the months and years to come. Factories added 467,000 jobs in the last 12 months alone, and factory production of manufactured goods in September was the highest in 14 years, according to the Federal Reserve.  

The majority of U.S. manufacturing goods and services include: 

  • Food, beverage, and tobacco 
  • Petroleum, coal, chemicals, plastics, and rubber 
  • Transportation and machinery equipment 
  • Metals and mineral production 
  • Computer, electronic, and electric products 
  • Wood and paper products 
  • Textiles, apparel, and leather products  

Following are more insights into our standing in the U.S. manufacturing sector and our impact on manufacturing in the global economy.  

Technology is driving powerful transformations     

In mid-October 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) issued an eye-opening description of the state of the U.S. manufacturing industry and how our manufacturing firms and advanced manufacturing ecosystem are leading to economic growth, innovation, competitiveness. 

“Advanced manufacturing is changing the nature of manufacturing, creating new, technically advanced and higher-paying positions,” says Devon Bistarkey, strategic communications lead in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. “Today’s factories are safe, bright, energetic technology hubs operated and managed by capable, educated individuals – a stark contrast to the depiction of the noisy and dark factories of the past. Approaching an era where automation and cognitive computing seamlessly connect to smart factories, supply chains are entering a fourth industrial revolution known as Industry 4.0. The transformation, through advanced digital technologies across engineering and manufacturing, is set to bring the U.S. manufacturing ecosystem to the forefront of modernization – and with it, a demand for a sustained pipeline of talent and strong domestic manufacturing centers.”  

What is the U.S. manufacturing market size?  

The following impressive statistics are from IBISworld:  

  • Market size by revenue is $8.8 trillion in 2022. 
  • Market size is expected to increase 14.2% in 2022.  
  • Market size has grown 6.6% per year on average between 2017 and 2022.  
  • Market size increased faster than the economy overall over the past five years.  

For perspective, global manufacturing production value is expected to reach $44.5 trillion in 2022. 

Manufacturing by country today  

Here’s a current look at manufacturing by country, showing the world’s top 10 and what they contribute to the global manufacturing economy:  

  1. China – 28.4% 
  2. United States – 16.6% 
  3. Japan – 7.2% 
  4. Germany – 5.8% 
  5. India – 3.3% 
  6. South Korea – 3.0% 
  7. Italy – 2.3% 
  8. France – 1.9% 
  9. United Kingdom – 1.8% 
  10. Mexico – 1.5%  

Industry size by global employment  

Based on its expert analysis and database of 70+ global industries, IBISWorld presents a list of the biggest industries by employment in 2022. Manufacturing industries claim three of the top 10 spots on the list:    

Number 1: Global Consumer Electronics Manufacturing: 17,828,885 people 

Number 5: Global Apparel Manufacturing: 9,675,672 people 

Number 10: Global Auto Parts & Accessories Manufacturing: 8,060,047 people  

U.S. manufacturing is attracting more women: The U.S. Department of Commerce cites how today’s manufacturing employers need workers with skills to operate in a highly automated environment and noted that manufacturers find that gender diversity boosts employee morale and retention.  

As a result, there has been growth of women not only in American manufacturing, but also in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields – skills that manufacturing employers increasingly require. The Departments says that although men still hold the majority (67.9%) of U.S. manufacturing jobs, the Census Bureau’s Job-to-Job (J2J) Flows Explorer shows that from 2010 until the pandemic struck in 2020, the share of women in manufacturing jobs rose in every working-age category up until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic started. In 2021, manufacturing jobs data show the numbers going back up to pre-pandemic levels.  

Companies are bringing manufacturing back to the United States 

U.S. manufacturers are bringing production back home to reduce reliance on the vulnerability and disruptions of global supply chains. A majority of American companies with production operations in China have already moved some back to the United States or plan to do so in the next three years, according to Kearney’s 2021 Reshoring Index. Here are some examples:   

  • General Motors: In early 2022, GM announced plans to invest $7 billion on four plants in Michigan. Last year it spent almost $40 billion buying parts from around 5,600 U.S. suppliers. The manufacturer behind Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, and Hummer is also investing big in battery cell production for electric vehicles. In mid-2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a loan of $2.5 billion for Ultium Cells, a joint venture of GM and battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution to help finance EV lithium-ion battery cell factories in three states, to be located in Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The facilities are expected to create 6,000 well-paid construction jobs and 5,100 operations jobs.  
  • GE Appliances: GE is also expanding U.S. production to make products closer to customers and create more American jobs. Since 2016, the company has invested more than $2 billion in its U.S. plants and distribution centers. It opened a water heater plant in May in Camden, South Carolina, and has increased its spend with U.S. suppliers by two thirds in the past five years.  
  • Intel: The world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue, Intel is investing $12 billion in two chip factories near Phoenix due to open in 2024. The new plants will help meet domestic demand for the billions of chips now used in many products, from computers to automobiles.  
  • Steel Manufacturers: U.S. Steel is investing in a $3 billion steelmaking factory in Osceola, Arkansas. Similarly, Nucor, an American producer of steel and related products, is spending approximately $2.7 billion on a steel plate mill in Brandberg, Kentucky, with construction set to start later this year.  
  • Generac Power Systems: An American manufacturer of backup power generation products for residential, light commercial, and industrial markets, Generac started mapping out plans to shift some production from China to the United States, and when the pandemic hit, those plans got supercharged. The company now gets more of its parts from suppliers in the U.S. and Mexico, produces more generators near its headquarters outside Milwaukee, and runs a new plant in a small town north of Augusta, Georgia. Last year it unveiled plans to open a new plant in Trenton, South Carolina.  
  • Lockheed Martin: This renowned American aerospace, arms, defense, information security, and technology corporation is putting $16.5 million into a new missile system integration lab facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The defense contractor already has 25 facilities in Alabama and expects to create 200 more jobs there.  

The top 10 U.S. manufacturing companies by revenue  

  1. General Motors Company – Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan 
  2. Patrick Industries, Inc. – Headquarters: Elkhart, Indiana 
  3. Boeing Company – Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois 
  4. General Electric Company – Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts 
  5. Microsoft Corporation – Headquarters: Redmond, Washington 
  6. Apple Inc. – Headquarters: Cupertino, California 
  7. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. – Headquarters: Pittsburg, Texas 
  8. Valero Energy Corporation – Headquarters: San Antonio, Texas 
  9. Phillips 66 Company – Headquarters: Houston, Texas 
  10. ExxonMobil Corporation – Headquarters: Irving, Texas 

What are the most popular products made in America?  

And now for some fun! We enjoyed looking at this list from MediaFeed and think you will, too. Their list of 55 of the most popular products made in America ranges from popular candy to reliable vehicles and some of the nation’s most popular beers. Here are the top 10 but do check out the full list of popular American manufactured goods!  

  1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 
  2. Fortnite: Battle Royale 
  3. Bud Light 
  4. 2019 Jeep Cherokee 
  5. Lodge Cookware 
  6. Wilson Footballs 
  7. Yankee Candles 
  8. Crayola Crayons 
  9. OPI Nail Polish 
  10. Barefoot Wine  

Okay, we’ll give you a bonus: Number 11 is Skittles!  

The right talent is needed to conquer steep challenges  

While the future of U.S. manufacturing and America’s opportunities to reclaim its global export prowess are extremely bright, there are plenty of challenges to surmount that have potential to make or break a company’s success:  

  • Workforce and skills shortages 
  • Talent retention for essential manufacturing jobs 
  • Ongoing supply chain and productivity growth challenges 
  • Increasing need for manufacturing and supply chain process optimization to propel growth 
  • Cybersecurity risks and attacks 
  • Rising expectations for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives  

Companies in America’s manufacturing sector know that competition is fierce for experienced talent, and that attracting and retaining the right candidates in critical manufacturing jobs is essential to lead their companies through the technological changes impacting the industry.  

We have a solution! 

Partner with a top manufacturing recruiting firm: If you’re looking for talent to build or boost your U.S. manufacturing team, or for your next great opportunity in the manufacturing and engineering world, reach out to us today. Goodwin Recruiting has a team of expert recruiting partners who understand how the manufacturing sector is evolving and the challenges that businesses and professionals are facing today. Let us help you meet the future head on.