“The State of Manufacturing”

Thomas, a provider in product sourcing, supplier selection and marketing solutions for the manufacturing industry, today released results from the “Manufacturing Perception Report.” The survey examines Americans’ perceptions about the manufacturing industry – from careers to automation.

While a majority of respondents reported they were very or somewhat familiar with the manufacturing industry (76%), the survey results reveal Americans are largely unaware of the robust state of the manufacturing sector.  

“It was suprising to see that half of the respondents feel that the current state of the manufacturing industry is ‘stable but weak or in decline.’ In fact, the opposite holds true: the state of manufacturing is greater than ever—a trend we can expect to continue with innovation, a strong economy and increased national awareness,” said Tony Uphoff, Thomas President & CEO.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • Generational Divide: Baby boomers (52%) and Gen X (50%) feel the quality of US products are superior, whereas millennials (47%) and Generation Z (43%) think the quality of products are typically the same quality. However, overall there is a strong affinity for American made products – 61% of all respondents prefer products made in America.
  • National Security: 51% of respondents say the manufacturing sector is very important to national security. A combined total of 87% of respondents think the manufacturing sector is at least of somewhat importance to national security.
  • Automation Impact: When asked about which industries automation will have the biggest impact on, manufacturing took the lead (34%) followed by transportation (15%), retail (11%) and fast food (10%). When asked about the biggest problem facing the manufacturing sector, over one-third of respondents replied ‘robotics and automation.’ 
  • Industry to Pursue: Two-thirds of respondents say they are very likely/somewhat likely to encourage someone in the workforce to pursue a career in manufacturing. In addition, half of respondents think of the manufacturing industry as high-tech.

Though a majority of respondents say they would be likely to encourage others to pursue a career in manufacturing, the industry is facing a large skills gap resulting in a need for job opportunities to be filled by the next generation.

“Manufacturing has been the backbone of the American economy since the 1800s,” added Uphoff. “We are experiencing a renaissance right now that has a lot of promise for job growth and stability for years to come.”

The study was conducted online using Survey Monkey. Over a thousand participants were polled, spanning across the United States. Participants were all over the age of 18 and represented a broad range in income, geographic location and gender.

About Thomas

Thomas provides actionable information, data, analysis and tools that align with and support today’s industrial buying process. Its solutions include the Thomas Network at Thomasnet.com®, industry’s largest and most active buyer/supplier network. Through Thomas Marketing Services, the company provides full-service industrial marketing programs and website development. Thomas Product Data Solutions helps manufacturers connect with design engineers through advanced CAD/BIM and data syndication services. Thomas WebTrax® provides opportunity intelligence on in-market buyers to help marketing and sales teams track, identify, and engage high value prospects. Thomas Insights delivers original content to help marketers and supply chain professionals inform their decision-making, through leading titles including Inbound Logistics®, Industrial Equipment News® (IEN®), Thomas Industry Update, and the Thomas Index™.