The State of U.S. Manufacturing

Overall, the U.S. manufacturing industry is growing and adding jobs faster than the rest of the economy. Since February 2017, the U.S. has added 222,000 new manufacturing jobs, “accounting for 9.8 percent of payroll jobs added in the U.S.,” according to Bloomberg. Furthermore, jobs in the manufacturing industry offer higher average weekly earnings, compared with the private sector as a whole. The reasons for this boom in manufacturing are worth examining.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the Washington State University’s Online MBA program.


A Statistical Portrait

The public perception is that manufacturing is on a steady decline in the U.S., but the numbers paint a different picture.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the pace of manufacturing employment is quickening. BLS reports the three-month percentage change in manufacturing employment in 2018 (seasonally adjusted) was up 6 percentage points compared to the industry’s rate around the late 2000s’ recession.

The numbers also look good beyond payroll employment. According to an article by Forbes, “In 2013, the manufacturing sector employed 12 million but generated an additional 17.1 million indirect jobs.” Furthermore, “each dollar’s worth of manufacturing goods generates $1.40 in output from other sectors of the economy. Studies also show that the average annual salary across goods-producing industries is $56,799 compared with $45,676 in other working-class fields.

Growth Across Geographic Regions

Nine of the fastest-growing areas for manufacturing are small- and medium-sized metropolitan areas. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford region leads the way, as the number of industrial jobs here has increased by 23.6 % since 2012. The Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall area is the second-fastest growing (22.6%), followed by Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley (22%) and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan (20.5%)

Driving Forces

Growth in manufacturing is being powered by a variety of factors and big-name brands – something that didn’t necessarily happen by surprise. In 2011, Boston Consulting Group’s Doug Hohner, Harold L. Sirkin, and Michael Zinser predicted the erosion of China’s cost advantage to the North American market and the U.S.’s flexible workforce and resilient corporate sector as factors behind a coming American manufacture boom. Today, additional causes are also driving growth in manufacturing, such as a growing domestic oil and gas industry, cuts in business taxes, a growing U.S. economy, and a weaker U.S. dollar which makes American-made products less expensive abroad.

Naturally, there are already predictions for future growth drivers in manufacturing. These include a low U.S. inventory investment combined with an expanding economy, expected growth in business investment, and demand in the housing market outpacing supply.

The Faithful Few

Many well-known and established companies choose to manufacture in the U.S., creating jobs and growth for cities across America. Tesla, for instance, drove 30.2 % growth in Reno, Nevada by creating 19,100 jobs in 2017. Budweiser has 12 breweries across 11 states, producing the equivalent of 3 billion gallons of beer per year. Hershey, meanwhile, committed to a $60 million expansion of its Hazelton, Pennsylvania manufacturing plant; this commitment will add a 25% job increase, with pay ranging from $17 to $20 an hour for the new jobs. Finally, Jack Daniel’s has been producing its eponymous whiskey in Tennessee since 1866, exports nearly $1 billion worth of product annually, and recently increased its production via a $140 million expansion.

Careers in Manufacturing for MBA Graduates

MBA graduates may have a competitive advantage when exploring their preferred roles in manufacturing. Those ready for a challenge may choose from multiple career options.

Administrative Services Manager

An administrative services manager plans and coordinates an organization’s supportive services, such as mail distribution and record keeping. They also supervise administrative personnel and continually improve operations by implementing changes to policies and procedures. The key skills for the position include having great attention to detail and strong analytical, leadership, and communication skills. A bachelor’s degree in business, engineering, or information management is typically required, although earning a Master’s and earning certification may yield a competitive edge. The median annual salary for the role is $94,020.

Management Analyst

A management analyst gathers, organizes, and analyzes information regarding a problem or procedure. This info can include revenue, expenditure, or financial data. Those in the role can also conduct staff interviews, develop alternative practices, and recommend systematic or procedural improvements. Key skills include analytical, problem-solving, time management, and interpersonal competencies. The role requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, although some employers prefer advanced degrees as well as certification. The position’s median annual salary is $82,450.

Human Resources Manager/Director

HR managers/directors plan and coordinate administrative functions like employee benefits programs, interviewing, and recruiting. They also mediate staff disputes, direct disciplinary procedures, and bridge communication between management and employees. Those in the role must have strong speaking, decision-making, organizational, and interpersonal skills. A minimum bachelor’s degree in HR or business management is required. While certification is not required, it can provide greater opportunity for advancement. The median annual salary for the position is $110,120.


From all directions, various causes are bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. the once-widely held belief that manufacturing in the U.S. will come to an end is being replaced by reinvigorated anticipation. Companies from a wide range of sectors are choosing to manufacture in the U.S. and, as a result, are creating a healthy job market. MBA graduates are well-equipped to take on the challenges of a revived industry and benefit from many career opportunities.