Just The Facts

7 Facts: The Rapidly Vanishing U.S. Manufacturing Worker

The share of jobs held in the manufacturing sector continue to fall in the United States.

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Takeaways


  • The share of jobs held in the manufacturing sector continue to fall in the United States.
  • The number of manufacturing jobs in the US fell by 40% between 1979 and 2012, even as the US population rose by 40%.
  • From 2002 to 2012, the U.S. manufacturing sector lost 3.4 jobs - or almost 30% of its total employment.

1. In 2012, the U.S. manufacturing sector — which includes companies that make physical goods, such as furniture, appliances, cars and aircraft — accounted for just 8.2% of U.S. employment.

2. That was the equivalent of 11.9 million jobs.

 
3. A decade earlier, in 2002, the U.S. manufacturing sector accounted for 10.7% of the workforce (a 30% higher share of GDP), or 15.3 million jobs (30% more jobs).

4. From 2002 to 2012, the U.S. manufacturing sector lost 3.4 jobs – or almost 30% of its total employment.

5. While part of this decline is attributable to the 2009-10 recession, it is also part of a much a longer-term trend.

6. U.S. manufacturing employment peaked in 1979, when the sector accounted for almost 20 million jobs.

7. Put another way, the number of manufacturing jobs fell by 40% between 1979 and 2012 — even as the U.S. population grew by 40% (from 225 million to 314 million).

Data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau

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