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Input: Economic Factors

Between 1992 and 2002, the Manufacturing sector was the largest contributor to the U.S economy, accounting for 22% of the total rise in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The 7% decline in the Manufacturing sector during the current recession decreased the GDP growth rate to a lower 0.3%. In fact , the importance of the Manufacturing sector in the country's economic growth is pronounced by the sheer size of its multiplier effect. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, every $1 of a manufacturing product sold to a final user generates an additional $1.43 of intermediate economic output, more than half in sectors outside manufacturing. Every $1 million in final sales of manufactured products supports eight jobs in the Manufacturing sector and an additional six jobs in other sectors.

Market forces, including global competition, structural changes, and emerging threats may affect levels of resources available for occupational safety and health initiatives within the Manufacturing sector.

Across the Sector

The Manufacturing sector is extremely broad, and includes nearly 500 six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. The activities within the Manufacturing sector range from food and textile processing and production, to metals processing and heavy equipment production, to oil refining and chemical production. Processes can range from production of bulk materials like minerals, metals, and chemicals, to the production of small or intricate items such as electronics, specialty chemicals, or nanoparticles. Because of this diversity, sweeping assessments of the Manufacturing sector are difficult. However, a several observations will apply to many segments within the Manufacturing sector:

  • Today's global economy is presenting businesses with competition from new, and for some firms, unexpected quarters. Pressures on both productivity and wages are being felt from operations outside of the United States.
  • Due to global competition is the move by many companies toward lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing has the effect of making major structural changes in the design and production of products. Its goals are to reduce waste and production time, while increasing quality, all leading to reduced costs. While the concepts of lean manufacturing have been used for decades, major increases in worker productivity in recent years can be traced to widespread adoption of these practices.

Natural and man-made emergencies are a threat to the safety and security of nearly all operations within the sector:

  • For all manufacturing facilities, pre-planning is critical to protecting employees and the surrounding communities, and ensuring safe and continued site operation.
  • Many industries, such as those using large quantities of hazardous materials, are taking additional measures to protect goods and personnel from security threats.
  • The costs of intensive security measures reduce profit margins, and some of these costs will be passed on to consumers.
  • Increased spending for protective measures means that businesses will have to cut spending elsewhere. Spending on other aspects of worker safety and health may be reduced.

New technologies can affect occupational safety and health and may also have an economic impact:

  • Adoption of new technologies may benefit productivity, but new technologies can bring unanticipated safety and health risks.
  • Businesses may feel pressure to adopt new technologies as their competitors adopt them.
  • Decisions to implement technologies to benefit worker safety and health are typically weighed against other cost pressures.

Manufacturing Sector Statistics

The Manufacturing sector is among the largest sectors in terms of annual sales receipt or shipments, annual payroll and paid employees. According to the 2002 Economic Census, manufacturing represents only 5% of the firms in the United States, but is responsible for 18% of the total sales or shipments, 15% of the total U.S. annual payroll, and 13% of the U.S. country's workforce. However, these percentages are down from the 1997 Economic Census where manufacturing represented 6% of the firms in the United States, and was responsible for 22% of the total sales or shipments, 20% of the total annual payroll, and 17% of the U.S. workforce.

Manufacturing Industry Groups

While the Manufacturing sector is categorized by 473 different six-digit NAICS codes, these industry segments are grouped and described by 21 three-digit NAICS codes. The groups, along with the number of establishments, number of employees, and the annual payroll in each group, are listed below.

Selected Economic Data for Manufacturing Sector Groups

3-Digit NAICS CodeManufacturing GroupNumber of EstablishmentsNumber of EmployeesAnnual Payroll ($1000)
311Food Manufacturing27,9151,506,93245,519,634
312Beverage & Tobacco Product Manufacturing3,025160,3056,923,024
313Textile Mills3,932269,0647,666,079
314Textile Product Mills7,304183,3334,759,988
315Apparel Manufacturing13,038343,4507,454,143
316Leather & Allied Product Manufacturing1,52244,5431,160,833
321Wood Product Manufacturing17,202540,56516,051,554
322Paper Manufacturing5,520491,43621,497,243
323Printing & Related Support Activities37,528715,77725,627,770
324Petroleum & Coal Products Manufacturing2,262102,8366,151,468
325Chemical Manufacturing13,476852,29744,556,764
326Plastics & Rubber Products Manufacturing15,529983,75732,619,736
327Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing16,706483,16117,929,311
331Primary Metal Manufacturing5,194490,41721,399,636
332Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing62,2191,574,82757,534,861
333Machinery Manufacturing28,3061,172,88949,838,051
334Computer & Electronic Product Manufacturing15,9101,262,06364,562,501
335Electrical Equipment, Appliance, & Component Mfg.6,499494,37018,082,952
336Transportation Equipment Manufacturing12,6391,676,19882,067,852
337Furniture & Related Product Manufacturing22,523595,91517,400,405
339Miscellaneous Manufacturing32,569755,40127,636,736

A closer look at the economic impact of these manufacturing groups shows that several have significantly higher wages than average for all sectors. For example, Transportation Equipment Manufacturing, NAICS code 336, has 0.18% of all establishments in the United States but employs 1.54% of all U.S. workers and represents 2.20% of the annual payroll. Data for the other manufacturing industry groups are given below.

Selected Economic Contributions of the Manufacturing Sector Groups

3-Digit NAICS CodeManufacturing GroupPercent of All Sector EstablishmentsPercent of All Sector EmployeesPercent of All Sector Annual Payroll
311Food Manufacturing0.41%1.38%1.22%
312Beverage & Tobacco Product Manufacturing0.04%0.15%0.19%
313Textile Mills0.06%0.25%0.21%
314Textile Product Mills0.11%0.17%0.13%
315Apparel Manufacturing0.19%0.32%0.20%
316Leather & Allied Product Manufacturing0.02%0.04%0.03%
321Wood Product Manufacturing0.25%0.50%0.43%
322Paper Manufacturing0.08%0.45%0.58%
323Printing & Related Support Activities0.54%0.66%0.69%
324Petroleum & Coal Products Manufacturing0.03%0.09%0.17%
325Chemical Manufacturing0.20%0.78%1.20%
326Plastics & Rubber Products Manufacturing0.23%0.90%0.88%
327Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing0.24%0.44%0.48%
331Primary Metal Manufacturing0.08%0.45%0.57%
332Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing0.90%1.44%1.54%
333Machinery Manufacturing0.41%1.08%1.34%
334Computer & Electronic Product Manufacturing0.23%1.16%1.73%
335Electrical Equipment, Appliance, & Component Mfg.0.09%0.45%0.49%
336Transportation Equipment Manufacturing0.18%1.54%2.20%
337Furniture & Related Product Manufacturing0.33%0.55%0.47%
339Miscellaneous Manufacturing0.47%0.69%0.73%
31-33All Manufacturing5%13%15%


National Association of Manufacturers ( NAM )

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  • Page last reviewed: September 28, 2012
  • Page last updated: September 28, 2012 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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