What Is Made in America?

Economics and Statistics Administration Issue Brief No. 04-14

14 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2015

See all articles by Jessica Nicholson

Jessica Nicholson

Government of the United States of America - Office of the Chief Economist

Ryan Noonan

Office of the Chief Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

Date Written: October 3, 2014

Abstract

Accurately determining how much of our economy’s total production is American-made can be a daunting task. However, data from the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) can help shed light on the dollar value of what America produces, and what percentage of the dollar value of an industry’s output that is considered domestic. Gross output, value added, domestically-sourced inputs, and domestic content are all concepts that can be used to measure U.S. production and to estimate how much of that production is made in the United States. This report starts with the concept of gross output and then looks further, seeking to answer the question: “What is Made in America?”

Our analysis reveals that in 2012: U.S. manufacturers sold $5.6 trillion of goods, $4.4 trillion (79 percent) of which was “Made in the U.S.A.” Value added directly by the manufacturing sector accounted for $1.9 trillion, while value added indirectly from all industries (including manufacturing) accounted for the remaining $2.5 trillion. In many cases, the portion of domestic content in U.S. production differs markedly from the domestic content on store shelves. For example, although the United States imported most of the apparel that consumers purchased, the apparel that was made in the United States contained 87 percent domestic content. Domestic content accounted for 51 cents of every dollar that U.S. consumers and businesses spent on manufactured goods. By industry, it ranged from a high of 79 cents per dollar of food, beverages, and tobacco products to a low of 7 cents per dollar of apparel. The four industries with the largest dollar values of American content were food, beverage, and tobacco products; chemicals; petroleum and coal products; and motor vehicles and parts. The petroleum and coal products industry, which is predominantly petroleum refining, was the only manufacturing industry whose gross output was less than 70 percent domestic content.

Although manufacturing employment has been growing, jobs in manufacturing are affected by, among other things, increased automation, productivity gains, exchange rate fluctuations, trade agreements, and import prices that affect how manufacturers build their supply chains.

Keywords: manufacturing, economics, made in America

JEL Classification: L6, L60, L61, L62, L63, L64, L65, L66, L67, L68, L69

Suggested Citation

Nicholson, Jessica and Noonan, Ryan, What Is Made in America? (October 3, 2014). Economics and Statistics Administration Issue Brief No. 04-14, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2616501

Jessica Nicholson

Government of the United States of America - Office of the Chief Economist ( email )

Room 4848 HCHB
Washington, DC 20230
United States

Ryan Noonan (Contact Author)

Office of the Chief Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce ( email )

Room 4848 HCHB
Washington, DC 20230
United States

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