The State of American Manufacturing Measured by the Census BureauOctober 7, 2016
Cross-blog post by Robert Bernstein, International Trade Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau
For more than 200 years — since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in America — the U.S. Census Bureau has described the state of America’s manufacturing. It all began as part of the 1810 Census, when U.S. Marshals collecting the population data also asked the first questions on manufacturing establishments. U.S. manufacturing has changed since then, when the landscape was dotted with textile mills. Today, the nation is celebrating this evolution with its annual observance of Manufacturing Day, when manufacturers across the country open their doors to showcase their modern manufacturing to America to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.
Since that first economic census in 1810, the Census Bureau has evolved its measurement of manufacturers. A wide range of data products give users a detailed look at the nation’s manufacturing industries. These products differ in geographic coverage, industry detail, how frequently they are released and what is included. Our most recent statistics, from the Annual Survey of Manufactures, show that U.S. manufacturers employed 11.0 million people and generated receipts of $5.9 trillion in 2014.
The most frequently published Census Bureau manufacturing statistics are the monthly full and advance reports on manufacturers’ shipments, inventories and orders, and manufacturing and trade inventory and sales. As economic indicators, these datasets have the potential to move financial markets. Economists and other analysts rely on the indicators to measure the current health of manufacturing and predict future business trends.
Our most geographically detailed data source, the economic census, is conducted every five years and provides data for years ending in 2 and 7. It includes statistics on the number of establishments, employees and value of shipments for cities and towns as small as 2,500 people, covering detailed industries down to the 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) level. It includes statistics for states, counties, metro areas and more than 5,000 communities nationwide.
The economic census thus enables you to examine long-term manufacturing trends in communities across the country. For example, in Palo Alto, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, you’ll see that the number of computer and electronic product manufacturing plants with at least one employee rose from 19 in 2007 to 22 in 2012. Employment climbed from 5,440 in 2007 to 6,158 in 2012. Their value of shipments totaled $2.7 billion in 2012.
If you’re looking for statistics that are timely but still local, then try the annual County Business Patterns series for numbers on establishments and employees. You won’t find data for places such as Palo Alto, but you will find them for Santa Clara County, Calif., where Palo Alto is located. Industry detail is also provided down to the 6-digit NAICS level. In 2014, the county was home to 2,306 employer manufacturing establishments, employing 85,253 people, including nearly 300 establishments that made semiconductors and other electronic components.
Our statistics show that manufacturers can be found in every corner of America, including perhaps the nation’s best-known ZIP code, (Beverly Hills) 90210, which according to a related dataset (ZIP Code Business Patterns), had 22 manufacturing establishments in 2014.
You may be surprised to learn that there are more manufacturers without employees than with them. Indeed, some manufacturing businesses are operated from home, such as those that produce handbags, awnings and wood screen doors. Another dataset, Nonemployer Statistics, reveals that there were more than 350,000 manufacturing establishments without any employees in 2014. By comparison, there were only 292,543 employer establishments in manufacturing, according to County Business Patterns.
Another key component of the Census Bureau’s manufacturing statistics program is the Annual Survey of Manufactures. This survey provides key measures of manufacturing activity for the nation and each state in non-economic census years. Statistics are available for not only employment and receipts, but also topics such as fringe benefits, employer’s cost for health insurance, cost of materials, total inventories and operating expenses.
What really sets the Annual Survey of Manufactures apart from other datasets, though, is that it also offers statistics on the production of specific manufactured goods. Through this survey, you can track how consumer habits are changing by tracing the production of certain goods through the years. The survey shows, for instance, that the value of shipments for yogurt (excluding frozen yogurt) rose from $2.5 billion in 2004 to $6.2 billion in 2014.
Another data source, the Business Dynamics Statistics examines establishment births and deaths each year. The Survey of Business Owners, a part of the economic census, and its annual counterpart, the new Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, examine the demographics of people who own manufacturing businesses.
Not only does Census Bureau data give you a picture of America’s manufacturing but it can also paint a picture of the workers in those industries. According to the American Community Survey, for example, in 2014, 28.8 percent of these workers were women.
The types of information we gather from America’s manufacturers includes much more: their exports, e-commerce shipments, R &D (research and development) and innovation,capital expenditures, plant capacity utilization, finances, job creation and worker turnover,organizational practices, pollution abatement costs, and energy consumption.
For a complete list and more details on the sources of manufacturing data from the Census Bureau, visit our manufacturing home page.
Happy Manufacturing Day!