Much has been written about declining employment in the U.S. manufacturing sector. Manufacturing jobs peaked in the United States at 19.4 million in 1979 and have been—for most of the time since—on a downward trajectory. Since the Great Recession, however, the overall rate of job attrition has slowed—even reversed in the past couple of years—thanks in large measure to international companies in the manufacturing sector, which have been creating new U.S. manufacturing jobs at a relatively robust rate while also adopting new technologies that increase productivity (see Figure 2).
Between 2010 and 2015, while the overall rate of manufacturing job growth was seven percent, U.S. manufacturing employment at international companies grew by nearly 22 percent. Without job creation at international companies, U.S. manufacturing job growth would have been a mere three percent.
Over that period, international manufacturers:
- Increased annual compensation from $145 billion to $220 billion, or by 22.0 percent in real terms.
- Increased expenditures on employee benefits from $15 billion to $25 billion, or by 34.1 percent in real terms.
- Dramatically upped their contributions to employee pensions and profit-sharing programs from $4.5 billion to $11.4 billion, or by 105.1 percent in real terms.
International companies employ 20 percent of America’s manufacturing workforce. However, 54 percent of the U.S. manufacturing jobs created in the past five years came from international companies (see Figure 3).