A survey of more than a thousand Americans reveals generational differences in how the manufacturing industry is perceived. Baby boomers (52 percent) and Gen X (50 percent) feel the quality of US products are superior, whereas millennials (47 percent) and Generation Z (43 percent) think the quality of products are typically the same quality. However, overall there is a strong affinity for American made products – 61 percent of all respondents prefer products made in America.
The “Manufacturing Perception Report from Thomas, a provider of product sourcing, supplier selection and marketing solutions for the manufacturing industry, shares results of its survey which examines Americans’ perceptions about the manufacturing industry – from careers to automation.
Among the survey’s findings:
Most think manufacturing is on decline.
While most of those surveyed were very or somewhat familiar with the manufacturing industry (76 percent), the survey results reveal Americans are largely unaware of the robust state of the manufacturing sector.
“It was surprising to see that half of the respondents feel that the current state of the manufacturing industry is ‘stable but weak or in decline.’ In fact, the opposite holds true: the state of manufacturing is greater than ever—a trend we can expect to continue with innovation, a strong economy and increased national awareness,” said Tony Uphoff, Thomas President and CEO.
Manufacturing is important to national security.
Fifty-one percent of respondents say the manufacturing sector is very important to national security. A combined total of 87 percent of respondents think the manufacturing sector is at least of somewhat importance to national security.
Automation expected to impact manufacturing the most.
When asked about which industries will be most impacted by automation, manufacturing took the lead (34 percent) followed by transportation (15 percent), retail (11 percent) and fast food (10 percent). When asked about the biggest problem facing the manufacturing sector, over one-third of respondents replied ‘robotics and automation.’
More looking to manufacturing for jobs.
Two-thirds of respondents say they are very likely/somewhat likely to encourage someone in the workforce to pursue a career in manufacturing. In addition, half of respondents think of the manufacturing industry as high-tech.
Though most respondents say they would be likely to encourage others to pursue a career in manufacturing, the industry is facing a large skills gap resulting in a need for job opportunities to be filled by the next generation.
“Manufacturing has been the backbone of the American economy since the 1800s,” added Uphoff. “We are experiencing a renaissance right now that has a lot of promise for job growth and stability for years to come.”
The study was conducted online using Survey Monkey. Over a thousand participants were polled, spanning across the United States. Participants were all over the age of 18 and represented a broad range in income, geographic location and gender.
Thomas provides actionable information, data, analysis and tools that align with and support today’s industrial buying process. Its solutions include the Thomas Network at Thomasnet.com®, industry’s largest and most active buyer/supplier network.