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Over 98% of American manufacturing companies are small businesses, and 75.3% of those businesses have fewer than 20 employees, according to new data gathered by SCORE, mentors to America’s small businesses.

Last year, manufacturing businesses generated 11.6% of the U.S. economic output and employed 8.5% of the U.S. workforce, but 89% of manufacturers report that they cannot fill all job openings.

“Manufacturing businesses drive the U.S. economy,” said SCORE CEO Ken Yancey. “They might be factories or bakeries, and they might utilize machine power or hand-make their products, but what they have in common is that the vast majority of manufacturers are small business owners.”

What are manufacturing businesses?

Manufacturing businesses create products from raw materials or components, either by machines or by hand. These goods are made in plants, factories, mills and private homes.

Small manufacturing businesses (with fewer than 20 employees) comprise these percentages of total employment for the following products:

  • 22.9% of apparel
  • 18.4% of furniture and related products
  • 16.4% of fabricated metal products
  • 15.2% of wood products
  • 11.5% of beverage and tobacco products
  • 8.6% of machinery
  • 6.3% of food
  • 5.6% of electrical equipment, appliances and components
  • 5.3% of plastics and rubber products
  • 5.1% of computers and electronic products
  • 2.8% of paper

Manufacturing generated 11.6% of U.S. economic output and employed 8.5% of the workforce. Yet, 89% of manufacturers have job openings they cannot fill. Top reasons cited include:

  • Shifting skill sets due to advancing technologies
  • Misperceptions of manufacturing jobs
  • Retirement of baby boomers

Download our infographic for more information about the economic and employment impact of U.S. manufacturing businesses.


Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE’s 11,000 volunteer business experts provide free small business mentoring sessions, workshops and educational services to clients in 300 chapters nationwide. In 2018, SCORE volunteers helped to create 32,387 new businesses and 103,300 non-owner jobs.

For more information about starting or operating a small business, or on volunteering with SCORE, visit SCORE at Follow @SCOREMentors on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for the latest small business news and updates.