Manufacturing Jobs Pay Higher Wages than Retail or Service Jobs

Editors note: Michele Nash-Hoff explains why we need an industrial strategy focusing on getting manufacturing back. So the 40 million unemployed have a chance it getting better jobs than the ones they left.

Continuing my series on why manufacturing is important to America, the second reason is that wages and benefits for manufacturing jobs are approximately 21 percent higher than for non-manufacturing jobs.

[Michele Nash Hoff | June 9, 2020 |]

As manufacturing jobs have declined over the past 40 years, the difference between the lowest personal income and highest personal income has steadily grown wider.

This difference was projected to get even worse according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook for 2018-2028. Employment growth was projected to continue to be concentrated in the service-providing sector of the economy.

  • “The service-providing sector as a whole will grow at a projected rate of 0.6 percent annually, slightly faster than the annual rate of 0.5 percent for industry employment overall. This growth is projected to add more than 7.6 million jobs, resulting in 136.8 million jobs in the service-providing sector by 2028. After declining slightly from 2008 to 2018 (-0.3 percent annually), the goods-producing sector is expected to change little from 2018–28, with an annual growth rate of 0.1 percent.
  • The sectors projected to experience the fastest annual employment growth are health care and social assistance (1.6 percent), private educational services (1.2 percent), and construction (1.1 percent). These three sectors alone are projected to add more than 4.6 million jobs by 2028—including 3.4 million new jobs projected in healthcare and social assistance.”

In an opinion article in IndustryWeek magazine, John Madigan, a consultant with Madigan Associate, wrote:

“Jobs paying $20 per hour that historically enabled wage earners to support a middle-class standard of living are leaving the U.S. Public sector aside, only 16% of today’s workers earn the $20-per-hour baseline wage, down 60% since 1979.  Service and transportation jobs, per se, cease to exist in the absence of wealth. Rather, they exist and thrive as by-products of middle-class incomes buying products and services.” (source)

According to Facts about Manufacturing by The Center for Manufacturing Research of The Manufacturing Institute, “In 2018, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $87,185 annually, including pay and benefits. The average worker in all nonfarm

industries earned $68,782.  Looking specifically at wages, the average manufacturing worker earned more than $27 per hour, according to the latest figures, not including benefits.”

According to the IndustryWeek 2018 Salary Survey, the average salary for manufacturing management is $110,200. By industry sector, the salary ranged from a low of $88,500 in the textiles/apparel sector to a high of $142,500 in the medical device/lab equipment sector.

The 2018 Manufacturing Compensation Report, sponsored by the SME Education Foundation and the Arconic Foundation, “found an average compensation of $64,014 for hourly workers and $111,731 for salary workers, including base pay, bonus/commission and dividends/stock options/profit sharing, and such perks as a company car and mobile phone. Following the trend in the rest of the country, 68 percent of hourly workers and 73 percent of salary workers reported a wage increase in the last year.”

In this report, Christopher Barger, senior director of communications at SME, said, “There are multiple paths to success and good-paying careers at all levels of manufacturing, and the good news is these jobs are in high demand. Individuals who pursue a career in manufacturing have several options to gain solid training education, be it entering the workforce from high school through apprenticeships or internships, attending a vocational school and getting certifications, or attending community colleges, and obtaining associates or four-year degrees.”

Most people have no idea of the variety of jobs that are available at manufacturing companies. Besides the usual corporate/executive management jobs, some of the other management jobs available at medium to large manufacturers are in these areas: operations, plant/facilities, manufacturing/production, purchasing/procurement, sales/marketing, quality, supply chain, lean/continuous improvement, human resources, R&D/product development, and safety/ regulatory compliance.

If you have the opportunity to visit the modern manufacturing facilities in the U. S., you would see the most productive, highly skilled labor force in the world applying the latest in information, innovation, and technology. Contrary to popular opinion, the industrial age is not over. We are in the midst of incredible advances in manufacturing – from nanotechnology, Industrial Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.

The innovation found in the manufacturing industry has helped to increase economic productivity too. Since the Industrial Revolution, the way we produce and consume goods has drastically changed, and it is continual innovation that allowed and continues to allow our country to become increasingly more productive in the services offered.

Automation and robotics have helped keep American manufacturers not only competitive but the most productive in the world. Manufacturing has long led U.S. industries in productivity growth. Gains in productivity raise a country’s standard of living. In the past 20 years, productivity – output per hour – has more than doubled – actually 2.5 times – that of other economic sectors.

There is also a multiplier effect of manufacturing jobs that reflects linkages that run deep into the economy. For example, every 100 steel or automotive jobs create between 400 and 500 new jobs in the rest of the economy. This contrasts with the retail sector, where every 100 jobs generate 94 new jobs elsewhere, and the personal and service sectors, where 100 jobs create 147 new jobs. In addition, for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.74 is added to the economy. Thus, this economic data indicates that each manufacturing job creates three to four other jobs, while service jobs only create one to two other jobs.  

Thus, manufacturing is an important vehicle to grow and sustain a higher standard of living for our nation, our states, cities, communities and individual families. The higher wages of manufacturing jobs contribute to a better quality of life while ensuring that we have a strong domestic manufacturing sector to protect the health and welfare of all Americans as well as protect our national security. 

Read the original article here.


CPA is the leading national, bipartisan organization exclusively representing domestic producers and workers across many industries and sectors of the U.S. economy.

The latest CPA news and updates, delivered every Friday.


Get the latest in CPA news, industry analysis, opinion, and updates from Team CPA.