U.S. Still World’s Largest Manufacturing Economy

Manufacturing continues to play a critical role in U.S. economy but corporate taxes, health care and pensions, regulations, and energy costs challenge the country’s economic future.

WASHINGTON -- Despite the worst economic downturn in decades, manufacturing continues to play a critical role in the U.S. economy but is challenged by increasing costs including corporate taxes, health care and pensions, regulations, energy and tort litigation, according to The Facts About Modern Manufacturing released today. The new Facts handbook was produced in partnership by The Manufacturing Institute, the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The facts clearly illustrate that manufacturing is central to America’s economic future,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, president, The Manufacturing Institute. “The United States has the largest manufacturing economy in the world, producing $1.6 trillion in goods annually. America’s global market share of manufacturing has held steady at around 22 percent for 30 years. Productivity growth is higher in manufacturing than in other sectors, holding down inflation and contributing to a higher standard of living. And one in six U.S. jobs is in or directly tied to manufacturing, which still pays premium wages and benefits.

“Manufacturing continues to generate more economic activity per dollar of production than any other business sector in the country. And manufacturing drives innovation by conducting nearly half of all research and development and creating the bulk of technology in the nation,” she added.

“Rising costs, however, are hampering our manufacturers’ competitiveness in a global, interconnected marketplace. Non-production costs add almost 18 percent to U.S. manufacturers’ costs relative to our major trading partners,” DeRocco said.

DeRocco also noted that the United States “is not equipping American students and workers with the right skills needed to compete in the modern global manufacturing economy. We are seeing our global market share eroded, even in high technology areas where we have been dominant. And the trade gap is widening for manufacturers in the United States, indicating a need for strategies to increase exports, promote free trade and level the playing field.” 

“In order to recover from the deepest manufacturing recession since the 1930s, it is vital to adopt policies promoting a sound domestic environment for this sector,” said Thomas J. Duesterberg, president and chief executive officer of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI.  “The Facts shows how new tax, regulatory, energy and trade policies affecting manufacturing will be crucial in the next few years.”

The Facts book points out several major cost drivers that are hurting U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, investment and job creation:

• U.S. Does Not Keep Pace with Falling Corporate Tax Rates
• High Health Care Costs Hamstring Competitiveness
• Regulatory Compliance Costs are Large and Growing
• Energy is Critical to the Industrial Sector
“All of these challenges underscore how manufacturing in the United States is at a crossroads, and the policy choices made today will shape the future of manufacturing in our country. The facts tell us that manufacturing is essential to a robust economy and high living standards. Addressing the underlying pressures that make it difficult to manufacture in the United States and making our economy more competitive should be a top priority for policymakers as the nation struggles to recover from the recession and create good jobs,” DeRocco concluded.

The 8th edition of the Facts book spotlights the latest U.S. government statistics, economic analysis and case studies about manufacturing in America. This resource is available at www.nam.org/facts.

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