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Manufacturing: industry overview and trends to watch

What to expect in employment trends, tariff activity and technology

workers in a manufacturing plant

A high-level look at manufacturing


Manufacturing is a broad industry and generally includes businesses that take materials or components and transform them into products. Often, manufacturing firms operate out of factories, plants and mills.


Manufacturers vary in size and may include everything from a small operation that hand-assembles products to an international organization with factories around the world. For a context of scale, middle-market manufacturing organizations are those with revenues between $10 million and $1 billion.1


Manufacturers may produce a final product or a component for another manufacturer. Other manufacturers, such as contract manufacturers, do not create products they sell themselves, but rather produce a product for other organizations. In these instances, the contract manufacturer is either involved in the design of the product, or work is completed to a customer's specifications.


Manufacturers do not fall neatly into one NAICS code. This is because manufacturing encompasses a wide variety of industries and products. The following are some NAICS codes manufacturers may be categorized under2 :


Industry outlook and trends


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),3 there are:


manufacturing business icon

3,233,406

manufacturing businesses


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12,850,000

manufacturing jobs


Additionally, according to the most recent data, revenue for all manufacturing reached $2.3 trillion and accounted for 11.6% of U.S. economic output in 2018. Manufacturing continues to be a cornerstone of the U.S. economy; however, a number of high-level economic, employment and technology trends continue to influence and disrupt the sector.


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The United States manufactures 18.2% of the world's goods.

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China is not far behind at 17.6%.

Insights on major lines of coverage


Exposures, precautions and lines of coverage that may apply in the manufacturing industry.

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Recommended lines of coverage: general liability, product liability, equipment breakdown, inland marine, property, workers' compensation, commercial auto and cyber liability


1"Manufacturing Middle Market Indicator," middlemarketcenter.org/Media/Documents/ MiddleMarketIndicators/2019-Q4/NCMM_4Q19_Manufacturing_infographic.pdf(2019).

2 "About the Manufacturing sector," www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag31-33.htm#about (March 20, 2020).

3 "Workforce Statistics," www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag31-33.htm#workforce(March 20, 2020).

4 "2020 Manufacturing Industry Outlook," www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/energy-and-resources/articles/manufacturing-industry-outlook.html (2019).

5 "US Manufacturing Statistics and Outlook," Kimberly Amadeo for The Balance, www.thebalance.com/u-s-manufacturing-what-it-is-statistics-and-outlook-3305575 (Oct. 22, 2019).

6 "U.S. manufacturers say tariffs pushing prices higher: Fed," Jason Lange, reuters.com/article/us-usa-fed-beigebook/us-manufacturers-say-tariffs-pushing-prices-higher-fed-idUSKCN1MY2LF (Oct. 24, 2018).

7 "How Tariffs Hurt Manufacturing," wsj.com/articles/how-tariffs-hurt-manufacturing-11577752265 (Dec. 30, 2019).

8"How Manufacturers Will Tackle the Talent Shortage in 2019," Cindy Bolt for Industry Week, industryweek.com/talent/article/22026861/how-manufacturers-will-tackle-the-talent-shortage-in-2019 (Dec. 19, 2018).

9https://us.hitachi-solutions.com/blog/top-manufacturing-trends/

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