Machinery Manufacturing:
A Major Component of U.S. Exports

Machinery manufacturing is one of the largest and most competitive sectors of the American manufacturing economy. The United States is the world’s third-largest supplier of capital equipment, exporting more than $160 billion in 2011.1 American manufacturers hold a nearly-60 percent share of the U.S. domestic market—the world’s largest, and account for more than 14 percent of global trade in machinery.

The economic impact of machinery manufacturing extends throughout the American economy. Machinery industries provide essential and highly sophisticated technology for many other manufacturing and service industries. Process control and other automation technologies enable end-users to maximize the productivity of their equipment. Sales of many types of machinery are accompanied by a variety of high-value services, as well, including specialized architecture, engineering, and logistics. Machinery manufacturing industries employ more than one million American workers in well-compensated trades and professions.

Leading markets for U.S. machinery exports in 2011 included Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, and Korea. Brazil was our sixth-largest export market, and Germany was seventh. The European Union taken as a whole would have been U.S. machinery manufacturers’ second-largest market in 2011, after Canada. India, Peru, China, Chile, and South Africa were the most rapidly growing export markets between 2001 and 2011. Among the wide range of machinery manufactured in the United States, construction machinery, engine equipment, turbines and turbine generator sets, and agricultural equipment led U.S. exports last year. Major competitors in global machinery markets include Germany, Japan, Italy, and China.

Key Statistics – 2010
(unless otherwise noted)
Manufacturers’ Sales: $360.9 billion2
Exports: $141.3 billion3
Export Growth (2009-10): 19.3 percent4
Exports as a Share of Manufacturers’ Sales: 39.2 percent5
Direct Employment (March 2012): 1,099,7006
U.S. Share of Global Market: 14.1 percent7
U.S. Share of Domestic Market: 59.4 percent8

Tens of thousands of companies manufacture machinery in the United States. Most are SMEs, but there are also many large, public companies and iconic American brands that trade on a global scale. Machinery is manufactured in 47 states, but production is concentrated in the industrial Midwest. California and Texas are also major machinery manufacturing states. Since 2009, machinery manufacturers of all sizes have benefitted from increasing domestic capital investment and strong growth in export markets.

U.S. machinery manufacturers face numerous challenges in foreign markets. Market access is problematic in a number of key growth markets, especially trade barriers based on foreign governments’ import substitution policies and local content requirements. Protection of intellectual property is a serious concern, as well. For a number of machinery industries, bans or restrictions on import of remanufactured goods are a significant problem. Despite high private-sector profits since the end of the recession, access to capital can still be a challenge, especially for SME manufacturers.

More than 1 million Americans are employed directly in machinery manufacturing, as of March 2012. Machinery manufacturing companies have added more than 125,000 jobs since January 2010.9 The unemployment rate for machinery manufacturing was 5.7 percent in March 2012, down from a mid-recession high of 14.2 percent in October 2009.10

Machinery manufacturing jobs are primarily in highly-skilled, well-compensated trades and professions. Leading employment categories include team assemblers, machinists, welders, tool-and-die makers, and mechanical and other engineers. Machinery manufacturing also supports the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a variety of other manufacturing and service industries.

Major Supply Chains
[agricultural equipment, food processing machinery, packaging machinery, materials handling equipment, refrigeration equipment, pumps, electric motors, printing machinery, process control technology]

Aerospace [machine tools, materials handling equipment, welding equipment, process control technology]

Automotive [machine tools, material handling equipment, welding equipment,process control technology]

Construction [construction machinery, materials handling equipment, power generating equipment, fluid power]

Energy [power generation equipment, oil & gas field equipment, mining equipment, materials handling equipment, pumps, electric motors, process controls]

Mining [power generation equipment, mining equipment, materials handling equipment, process controls, pumps, electric motors, fluid power]

Relationship with I&A and ITA
Machinery manufacturers and the dozens of organizations that represent them have been engaged with each of ITA’s operating units for many years, including Industry and Analysis (I&A), Global Markets (GM), and the Enforcement and Compliance (EC). The I&A Office of Transportation and its Machinery Team covers the great majority of machinery manufacturing industries, with other I&A offices addressing important machinery sub-sectors. I&A machinery coverage is organized as follows:

  • Office of Transportation and Machinery: agricultural and food machinery and equipment; construction machinery and related equipment; machine tools and manufacturing machinery; material handling equipment, pumps, electric motors; etc.
  • Office of Technology and E-Commerce: process controls and related equipment; semi-conductor manufacturing machinery; optical instruments; etc.
  • Office of Energy and Environmental Industries: oil and gas field equipment; power generation and transmission equipment, including civil nuclear and smart grid; water treatment and other environmental technologies. and
  • Office of Materials Industries: heating and air-conditioning equipment.

Machinery manufacturers and their trade associations have enduring relationships with I&A through the Market Development Cooperator Program, the ITACs, and the Manufacturing and Export councils. More broadly, they are strongly represented in ITA’s International Buyer Program, and the District Export Councils.

Information for Machinery Exporters
U.S. Government Resources for Exporters:

The International Trade Administration:

The Export Import Bank of the United States:

The Small Business Administration:

End Notes
1 U.S. International Trade Commission; includes data for includes NAICS 333 “Machinery Manufacturing,” plus selected products covered in NAICS 334 and 335.
2 Bureau of the Census, 2010 Annual Survey of Manufactures; includes NAICS 333 “Machinery Manufacturing,” plus selected products covered in NAICS 334 and 335.
3 U.S. International Trade Commission.
4 Ibid.
5 International Trade Administration, Office of Transportation and Machinery.
6 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; NAICS 333.
7 Global Trade Atlas, United Nations; calculated from certain data in HS Chs. 84, 85, and 87.
8 International Trade Administration, Office of Transportation and Machinery.
9 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
10 Ibid.

Last Updated: 9/17/13 2:39 PM

  Notice to Visitors!

  The link you have chosen will take you to a non-U.S. Government website.

  If the page does not appear in 5 seconds, please click this: outside web site is managed by the International Trade Administration and external links are covered by its website  disclaimer statement.