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Manufacturing Overview

man on manufacturing floor 
Providing technical support to the nation's manufacturing industries as they strive to out-innovate and outperform the international competition has always been one of NIST's top priorities.

Innovation and manufacturing work hand in hand. An innovation ecosystem has many interrelated elements—entrepreneurs, skilled workers, tax policies, to name a few. But without manufacturing, the economic magic of innovation is not nearly as potent and its benefits to the nation are not nearly as great.

Here's why:

  • Manufacturing jobs pay 9 percent more in wages and benefits than jobs in the overall economy, and 21 percent more than service jobs.
  • The manufacturing sector is an important source of U.S. innovation, accounting for about 70 percent of U.S. industry R&D.
  • Manufacturers employ 53.5 percent of R&D workers in U.S. industry.
  • Without a strong manufacturing base, U.S. industry jeopardizes its ability to seize the "first mover" advantage in the marketplace.
  • U.S. manufacturers produce almost 18 percent (UN data for 2008) of global manufacturing output.
  • Most U.S. export trade (60 percent) is in manufactured products—totaling $1.1 trillion in 2010.
  • An innovative and secure domestic manufacturing base is critical to national security.
  • Save for the category of software and Internet-related services, the world's most R&D-intensive industries are in the manufacturing sector—led by health care, computing and electronics, and aerospace and defense. (Booz & Co., 2009)

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