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Focus: Manufacturing

Feature Article from Our Manufacturing Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

- July 28, 2014 -

Supply Chain News: How is US Manufacturing Doing Six Years after the Great Recession? (Part 2)


Wide Disperity in Fortunes of Different Sectors, even as Overall US Output Finally on Cusp of Exceeding 2007 Levels


SCDigest Editorial Staff

Last week, we provided some numbers in chart form on how well US manufacturing has recovered from the Great Recession that started in 2008 and bottomed in mid-summer 2009.

SCDigest Says:


Having a tougher time is the "hardware" sector, where apparently a lot of the work has gone offshore. Current production levels are just 67% of 2007 levels, and trending down.

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The bottom line: US manufacturing output overall is at last finally on the cusp of at last reaching peak 2007 levels, with an index score of 99.7 versus the 100 for 2007 baseline year. However, the prosperity varies dramatically across industry sectors. (See last's week's story: How is US Manufacturing Doing Six Years after the Great Recession?)


Among the industries we looked at last week, below are the current indices (meaning, for example, that output in consumer goods manufacturing is currently 2.78% below its 2007 levels):


  • Consumer Goods: 97.22

  • Consumer Durables: 102.6

  • Chemicals: 89.21

  • Computers and Electronics: 150.3

  • Primary Metals: 104.6

  • Furniture: 75.85


  • Machinery: 108.95

Below we offer charts for another set of US industry sectors. Note that you can mouse over each chart to see individual data points and also change the time view of the data.

We'll start with automobiles and parts. Most know that the US auto industry in general seems to have recovered nicely, and that's shown in the data, where after having reached a bottom of just 47.6 in June 2009, production is now nicely back over 2007 levels, at 112 and change.




Plastic and rubber parts have seen a long, slow climp from the bottom, but now have come almost all the way back, to a level of 97.7.




Paperboard for packaging and other uses seems like a reasonable proxy to use for overall economic activity. That sector is also close to all the way back, at a level of 97.72 in May (June number was not yet available).




(Manufacturing Article Continued Below)



Learn More about Softeon's Innovative Supply Chain Solutions



Not surprisingly, food manufacturing has recovered nicely, now up almost six percent from 2007 levels. While the food supply chain has certainly gone global too in recent years, most US food is still produced right here.




Also a decent story for fabricated metal parts, which also seems to us like a good proxy for the overall economy, and sure enough at a level of 99.59 is pretty close to the number for the overall manufacturing sector.




Having a tougher time is the "hardware" sector, where apparently a lot of the work has gone offshore. Current production levels are just 67% of 2007 levels, and trending down.





A much better story in terms of heavy duty truck production, which has soared 54% over 2007, driven in part from changes in environmental regulations that force or encourage carriers to buy new equipment.



Finally, and most gloomily, the apparel and leather products manufacturing sector in the US has been devastated by offshoring, and not really come back at all. At a level of 59.24, it is 40% below 2007 levels, though it has at least flatlined of late.




What does this all mean? US manufacturing is growing, contrary to some perceptions, and is thriving in some sectors, but going in the other way in many others.

What is your reaction to these manufacturing numbers? What surprised you?
Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

Recent Feedback

Great article. I am a little suprised not to see BNSF in the mix while I understand their financial mode/operation is a little different. 

That would only give a complete perspective with all the players in the pool.

Senior Consultant
May, 22 2016

Surprised to see Home Depot fall off the list; thought they were winning with Sync?

Mike O'Brien
Senior editor
Access Intelligence
May, 26 2016

Using the right tool for the right job has always been a best practice and one of the reasons, we feel, that RFID has never taken off in the DC as exponentially as pundits have been forecasting since 2006. While these results may seem surprising to those solely focused on barcode scanning, the adoption of multi-modal technologies in the DC makes perfect sense for greater worker efficiency and productivity.

Julie Leonard
Marketing Director
Jun, 27 2016