Manufacturing is the fabrication, processing, or preparation of products from raw materials to make a finished product for use or sale. Establishments in the manufacturing sector are often described as plants, factories, or mills and generally include the production of food, chemicals, textiles, machines, and equipment.



Quick Facts

US Industry Revenues (2014): $2.09 Trillion
US Industry Revenues (2015 Estimate): up by 5.6%
US Industry Employment (2014): 12 Million / 411,000*
* Welding, soldering, and brazing workers                              

Common Careers

Working Conditions

Working conditions in manufacturing facilities vary. Specific work environments depend on the occupation and age of the production line. Contrary to outdated public perception, many new manufacturing plants are spacious, well lit, and modern. While engineers and technicians frequently work in office settings or laboratories, production engineers spend a large amount of time with production workers on the shop floor.

Production workers, such as welders and other assemblers, regularly deal with high noise levels and are often exposed to dust and chemicals. Although heavy lifting is required for many production jobs, advanced digital technology like robots and other forms of automation are commonly used on many job sites.

Manufacturing jobs typically pay well and provide good benefits. The average salary for manufacturing production jobs—such as welding, soldering, and brazing— is an estimated $36,300. In a report released in May 2012 by the Economic and Statistics Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the average hourly wage for manufacturing jobs overall was $29.75 an hour, compared with $27.47 an hour for non-manufacturing jobs.


Important locations of the manufacturing industry within the U.S. include the following:

  • Michigan
  • Indiana
  • Indiana
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Iowa
  • Alabama

Industry Outlook

Manufacturing plays a significant role in our national economy, accounting for roughly 12% of U.S. GDP.  For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.37 is added to the economy—making it the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. The forecast for manufacturing production is projected to increase by 5.6% in 2015 and 3.6% in 2016, fueling the expectation for the industry to grow faster than the overall economy.

Energy infrastructure, the housing supply chain, transportation infrastructure, medical care expansion, widespread growth abroad, and less domestic policy uncertainty are all expected to be the leading factors driving growth in the industry. To meet future demand expectations and capacity needs, manufacturers are making large investments in new facilities both in the United States and abroad.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S.BLS) has predicted 6% growth for employment opportunities in manufacturing from 2010 to 2020. More than 2.2 million openings in the industry will arise over the next decade in order to replace workers who retire or otherwise leave manufacturing jobs. BLS estimates that production occupations (which are predominately in the manufacturing industry) will increase by 356,800 between 2010 and 2020.