Manufacturing is vital for the world’s economy. And yet, in the last few decades, we have begun dealing with the paradox of production growth in this sector, paired with an employment decline.

To illustrate this phenomenon, we listed manufacturing employment statistics we believe everyone should be familiar with below. It appears that the biggest danger to the middle working class is automation, a process that is rapidly progressing and threatening to shut down an increasing number of jobs. Another important topic intertwined with this one is the competition between the largest manufacturing nations: The US, China, and Japan.

Let’s jump right in!

Top Manufacturing Jobs Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Between January 2000 and December 2014, the US manufacturing industry lost 5 million workers.
  • At 4.7%, manufacturing unemployment is the 12th highest in the US.
  • US industrial output grew by almost 500% between 1960 and 2015.
  • Every year, car manufacturing adds $953 billion to the US economy.
  • 1.3 million manufacturing jobs were lost in April 2020.
  • Half of the US toys and kitchen appliances are made in China.
  • The manufacturing sector in India halved its employment rate in the last five years.
  • High-paying manufacturing jobs are in short supply: The average hourly earnings for all manufacturing workers increased by just 11 cents in November 2020.

General Manufacturing Employment Stats

The changes in skills needed to perform new manufacturing tasks, competition against imported goods, and decreased mobility have all led to the manufacturing employment rate’s steady decline since 2000. On the flip side, manufacturing output has never been higher. Let’s take a look at some statistics to put those two together.

1. 8.58% of the US workforce is employed in manufacturing. 

(National Association of Manufacturers)

The number of manufacturing jobs in the US in 2020 was 12.2 million. US manufacturers account for 10.94% of the economy’s total output and 8.58% of the workforce. In 2020, the US manufacturing output amounted to $2,345.8 billion.

2. A top-paid manufacturing employee gets under $90,000 in annual income.

(US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

There are good-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry. However, the gaps in pay between positions are quite large, and even the top-earning jobs aren’t actually that lucrative. For example, the best-paid production position is that of a power plant operator, distributor, and dispatcher. But even at the top of the list of high-paying manufacturing jobs, it actually only pays a median of $89,090 per year.

3. Between 1997 and 2018, US manufacturing lost 5 million workers.

(Economic Policy Institute)

Manufacturing employment was fairly constant between 1970 and 1997, increasing from 16.8 million to 19.6 million. A prolonged drop in manufacturing employment began in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the biggest collapse happening in 2009, and another significant drop in 2010, according to manufacturing job loss statistics. Since then, the industry has been rebuilding and remedying these cutbacks, but the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out nearly half the jobs recovered in the past decade.

4. The top 10 cities by manufacturing output per capita are mostly under 150,000 in terms of population and located in the South and Midwest.

(Advisor Smith)

While the move towards big cities is a general trend in most industries, manufacturing thrives in smaller environments. Southern and Midwestern towns have carried the recovery of the manufacturing sector in the past decade, both in terms of output and employment. Based on manufacturing employment statistics, Bellingham, WA, has the highest job increase rate, at 23% from 2015 to 2019, despite its population of less than 90,000.

5. With 4.2%, manufacturing unemployment is in 12th place in the US.


The mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction companies have the highest unemployment rate in the United States as of July 2021, with 19.2%. In contrast, the lowest unemployment rate was 3% for financial activities and services. The manufacturing unemployment rate is in 12th place with 4.2%. For all industries, the median was 5.7%.

6. US industrial output grew by almost 500% between 1960 and 2015.

(Urban Institute)

The US manufacturing output grew five times from 1960 to 2015, while the number of manufacturing jobs in 2015 was lower by three million than in 1960. For men without a bachelor's degree, non-manufacturing production jobs have been the primary source of well-paying jobs, but that is less and less so with each passing year. Manufacturing employment trends show that a certain share of men without a bachelor’s degree who left the manufacturing sector made a lateral change to non-manufacturing production. This trend is expected to continue, as the transition to further automation becomes more overwhelming.

7. The gross output of motor vehicle manufacturing added $786.8 billion to the US economy in 2019.

(Statista, US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

A robust auto manufacturing sector is crucial to a stable US economy. Motor vehicle manufacturing provides a total of 896 thousand American jobs. Based on auto manufacturing employment statistics, the auto manufacturing sector makes for around 0.7% of the US private-sector employment.

8. There was a 1.68% decline in the US manufacturing output in 2016. 


US manufacturing output has been on a steady increase trajectory in the past decade. This trend was only briefly interrupted in 2016, when there was an output fall of 1.68% compared with 2015. However, the US manufacturing output over time continues to increase, even after taking another dip due to the pandemic.

9. 1.3 million manufacturing jobs were lost in April 2020. 


Manufacturing jobs have been on a continual rise in the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021. The biggest spikes were in September 2020, with 60,000 new jobs, and then again in March 2021, when another 51,000 jobs were added to the manufacturing sector. These increases have done much to remedy the initial drop in US manufacturing jobs in 2020, but the industry still has a long way to go before it returns to its pre-pandemic employment numbers.

10. The percentage of manufacturing employment in total employment dropped by 4% between 2000 and 2017.

(Sustainable Development Goals, US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

In 2000, the percent of US manufacturing in total employment was 11.9%. Since then, this percentage has continually been going down. For instance, in 2005, manufacturing jobs made up 9.7% of total US employment, and in 2010 that share fell to 8.2%. In 2017, manufacturing employment as a percentage of total employment was just 7.9%. However, the latest data shows an increase in this sector, and the manufacturing job share of total employment is currently at 8.4%.

11. Average hourly earnings increased by just 15 cents for all manufacturing workers in July 2021. 

(US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

In July 2021, all employees’ average weekly hours grew by 0.2 hours, and the average hourly earnings for all manufacturing employees increased 15 cents to $29.77. Production employees' average hourly earnings increased by 8 cents to $23.86. These manufacturing jobs statistics also show the highest point the manufacturing employee wage has ever reached.

12. In comparison with 2020, manufacturing employment increased in all but six US states.

(US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Compared to 2020, when only six states (Colorado (1.33%), Idaho (2.19%), Puerto Rico (0.40%), Utah (0.95%), West Virginia (0.64%), and Wyoming (0.97%)) marked an employment increase in manufacturing jobs, the sector saw year-over-year growth in an overwhelming majority of US states in 2021. The data on manufacturing employment by state shows that Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, and Washington were the only states that suffered decreases, while the percentages for Idaho and the District of Columbia remained unchanged.

Global Manufacturing Employment Statistics

Activities related to production are rapidly evolving. Economic growth is stimulated by manufacturing profits and exports, leading countries to focus on developing advanced manufacturing capabilities by investing in high-tech infrastructure and education.

13. Unsurprisingly, China is the world leader in manufacturing, with nearly twice the market share (28.4%) as the US (16.6%).

(World Economic Forum)

In 2009, compared to China's 18.6%, the U.S. produced 19.9% of the world's manufacturing output. However, the 110-year run of the United States as the number-one country in the production of goods ended in 2011. Today, China is the largest manufacturing nation based on the output rate and China’s manufacturing sector employment statistics. Half of the US toys and kitchen appliances are made in China. 

14. The manufacturing sector in India halved its employment rate in the last five years. 


The manufacturing sector is vital to the Indian economy’s growth, but it has been in decline for the past five years, and this was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each new job in the manufacturing industry produces two or three jobs in related activities, based on India’s manufacturing employment statistics, but that potential is left untapped as the sector faces an employment crisis.

15. By 2030, 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world may be replaced by robots. 


Since 2000, robots have already replaced around 1.7 million manufacturing workers, including 260,000 in the US and 950,000 in Europe and China. Based on the latest tech industry data, with an expected production of 14 million industrial robots by 2030, China is estimated to be the leader in manufacturing automation. For the past two decades, 1,270,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation worldwide.

16. During the next ten years, around four million manufacturing jobs will be needed. 

(Deloitte, Manufacturing Institute, The World Bank)

Four million manufacturing workers will probably be needed over the next decade, but 2.1 million of these positions are projected to go unfilled because of the lack of necessary skills in the US’ employable population. This lack of qualified talent could take a substantial bite out of economic growth, potentially costing the 2030 GDP output as much as $1 trillion. Meanwhile, global manufacturing employment statistics show that China’s manufacturers contribute up to 26.1% of the country’s GDP. In the US, that percentage is down to 10.92%.


In this era of extreme consumerism and population growth, the manufacturing sector keeps expanding in production, but the future of its employment rates is nowhere near as clear.

The trends revealed significant shifts of manufacturing staff to other industries. The loss of jobs in manufacturing is very troubling for individuals who might not be able to meet their retirement quota due to potential work loss.

According to manufacturing employment statistics, automation will likely be the biggest danger for the ordinary working man. On the bright side, automation and AI will also create new work positions, but the experts have yet to agree on exactly how many of those positions we can expect to fill.