Top Line Results from 2018 “Manufacturing Index”

Hey America, You’re Wrong – Manufacturing Is Not Failing, It’s Flourishing

Survey Calls Out Public Misconceptions About Modern American Manufacturing

Sparks, Nevada – September 18, 2018 – A just released survey by Leading2Lean shows that a majority of Americans believe that the American manufacturing sector is failing. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The Leading2Lean Manufacturing Index survey found that 70% of people believe the American manufacturing industry is in decline and that 58% of people believe that the number of manufacturing jobs in America is declining. Of those who believe that the industry is in decline, 71% indicated jobs being outsourced to countries outside the U.S. as the top reason for this decline.

In reality, manufacturing is growing at such a fast rate that over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled and an estimated 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled (1).

“This survey has brought to light the general public’s misconceptions about the current state of the manufacturing industry,” Keith Barr, CEO and President of Leading2Lean said. “It seems that the majority of Americans hold outdated assumptions about the industry, when the present-day truth is American manufacturing is thriving.”

So why is there such a large perception gap? There are many reasons. Political rancor and grandstanding; adherence to a belief that manufacturing jobs are poorly compensated and prone to monotonous, repetitive work; and, news accounts of vacant, rusting buildings all contribute to a belief that manufacturing has left U.S. shores.

Barr believes the industry itself is partly to blame. “We haven’t done a good enough job explaining to our potential workforce that manufacturing has evolved. Today’s manufacturing jobs are dynamic, require the ability to work with technology, and the ability to problem solve complex issues. Systems have even started making use of gamification concepts which are increasing motivation and engendering positive behaviors, in particular for Millennials and Generation Z workers. And most importantly, these are high wage jobs.”

The survey revealed a perception that manufacturing isn’t a viable career option, and that there are not a lot of jobs available.

The survey also found that only 55% of respondents agreed that manufacturing offers fulfilling careers, and only 45% of respondents agreed that manufacturing jobs are an attractive option to younger workers and the next generation of workers. This leaves a surprisingly large portion of Americans that are unsure or unconvinced that the industry is a fulfilling or attractive career option.

According to Barr, “We hear of high school graduates regularly pursuing popular and well-paying careers in graphic design or medical technology, while similarly high-paying and fulfilling careers in manufacturing get left unfilled because of negative assumptions about the industry.”

Salary statistics speak for themselves. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls is $44,595.20 ($21.44 per hour) as of July 2018 (2). This is nearly three times the current federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). On top of competitive salaries, manufacturing workers are commonly also provided with higher levels of benefits, such as paid leave, supplemental pay, and insurance, as compared to other industries (3).

According to 2018 data from Glassdoor, the average base pay for managerial level manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is competitive with tech sector jobs. For example, the average base pay of a Manufacturing Supervisor is $64,118 (4). For a Manufacturing Engineer, the average is $71,679 (5). And for a Director of Manufacturing, the average base pay is $146,412 (6) .

“Our goal is to educate the public about what’s really happening on the floors of American manufacturing plants,” said Barr. “We believe that as people better understand the opportunities and growth in manufacturing, more will pursue careers in this industry.”

This is the first annual Leading2Lean Manufacturing Index. The survey was conducted by ENGINE, formerly named ORC International, and sponsored by Leading2Lean, a manufacturing software technology company and creator of CloudDISPATCH, a Lean Execution System (LES) used by manufacturers to analyze and improve production, maintenance and quality operations. The survey polled 1,000 respondents online nationally with a 95% confidence level.

To view the results of the survey, please visit To learn more about Leading2Lean, please visit

About Leading2Lean
Founded in 2010, Leading2Lean provides production, maintenance and product quality solutions for manufacturers with its Lean Execution System software, CloudDISPATCH. It has integrated and easy-to-use lean tools that allow operators and managers to problem solve production abnormalities with real-time data that reveal the root cause problems that cause metric misses, all while creating a sustainable plant floor culture of continuous improvement. For more information, visit







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Kevin Bryan


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