Disparaging myths have circulated about American manufacturing for decades. Parents have discouraged their children from going into a manufacturing career because they think factories are “dirty and dangerous,” or that the industry lacks a solid wage and career opportunities. Manufacturers in other countries are perceived as far more innovative than their U.S. counterparts. And, sadly, people believe that manufacturing has vanished from the U.S.
The prevalence and endurance of these misperceptions have serious ramifications for the manufacturing industry. When schoolchildren believe manufacturing is not a sound career choice, they will not consider a job in that sector. When economists and policymakers call manufacturing irrelevant in today’s economy, they continue to perpetuate myths that harm the sector.
This study debunks these myths. MAPI Foundation’s research has found that manufacturing’s role in prosperity is much bigger than national statistics suggest; the value added from the entire manufacturing value chain is roughly one-third of both GDP and employment. By truly understanding manufacturing, the sector’s standing among educators, parents, and policymakers can be rebuilt, supporting better job opportunities and consistent economic growth for future generations.