Thomas, New York, released results from the “Manufacturing Perception Report,” which examines Americans’ perceptions about the manufacturing industry.

While a majority of respondents reported they were very or somewhat familiar with the manufacturing industry (76%), the survey reveals 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,” says Tony Uphoff, president and CEO.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • Generational divide. Baby Boomers (52%) and Gen X (50%) feel the quality of U.S. products are superior, whereas Millennials (47%) and Generation Z (43%) think the quality of products are typically the same. However, overall there is a strong affinity for American-made products - 61% of all respondents prefer products made in America.
  • National security. 51% of respondents say the manufacturing sector is very important to national security. A combined total of 87% of respondents think the manufacturing sector is at least of somewhat importance to national security.
  • Automation impact. When asked about which industries automation will have the biggest impact on, manufacturing took the lead (34%) followed by transportation (15%), retail (11%) and fast food (10%). When asked about the biggest problem facing the manufacturing sector, over one-third of respondents replied “robotics and automation.”
  • Industry to pursue. 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.

“Manufacturing has been the backbone of the American economy since the 1800s,” adds 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, San Mateo, Calif. 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.