Report: U.S. Manufacturing Jobs Pay Significant Wage Premium

Study Details Impact on States and Congressional Districts 

Washington, D.C. – Full-time manufacturing jobs pay thousands of dollars more each year on average compared to jobs in other economic sectors and have a significant positive impact on the U.S. economy, according to a new report issued today by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). 

“This report makes clear just how crucial the manufacturing sector is to the nation’s economy. Manufacturing’s wage premium is a clear path to the middle class. But to bring those jobs back we must tackle the enormous U.S. goods trade deficit, and make a serious, long-term investment in transportation infrastructure.”  -- Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

The wage premium amounts to more than $3,700 annually. Despite this, recent manufacturing job growth has been hamstrung by the mushrooming goods trade deficit. The United States lost 5.7 million manufacturing jobs between March 1998 and December 2013, the report found, with the principal causes of job loss identified as the weak recovery from the Great Recession; and growing trade deficits, especially with China, Mexico, and other low-wage nations. The U.S. trade deficit in manufactured goods has increased sharply since 2009. 

The EPI study, “The Manufacturing Footprint and the Importance of U.S. Manufacturing Jobs,” found that the sector employed 12 million workers in 2013, or about 8.8 percent of total U.S. employment, including a higher overall share of workers without a college degree.  On average, these workers made 10.9 percent, or $1.78, more than similar workers elsewhere in the economy in 2012–2013. 

The report found that manufacturing plays a particularly important role in supporting jobs in a group of states in the upper Midwest and South. Complete data for employment in each state and for all 435 congressional districts and the District of Columbia are available in the EPI Manufacturing Employment Map

In addition to the 12 million people employed in U.S manufacturing, the sector supports some 17.1 million indirect jobs, for a total of 29.1 million jobs directly and indirectly supported – more than one fifth (21.3 percent) of total U.S. employment in 2013.