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Census Bureau Provides Informed Picture of the State of the U.S. Auto Manufacturing Industry

Thu Aug 21 2014
By Margaret Beckom
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Since its birth more than 100 years ago, the U.S. automobile manufacturing industry has experienced significant growth to not only become one of the largest U.S. manufacturing industries but also one of the biggest industries in the U.S. economy. The changes this industry has faced have included periods of decline as well as growth, such as the most recent recession and subsequent recovery. Throughout these years, the U.S. Census Bureau has provided consistent, comparable, and reliable statistics that are critical to understanding this industry.

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The Annual Survey of Manufactures provides insight into the changes in this industry in the years between economic censuses. It provides sample estimates for manufacturing establishments with one or more paid employees, including measures of industry outputs, inputs, and operating status.  Automobile manufacturing (NAICS 336111) is defined as any establishment that is primarily engaged in either manufacturing complete automobiles (i.e. body and chassis or unibody) or manufacturing automobile chassis only.

For example, the chart from the Annual Survey of Manufactures below shows a 35.7 percent decrease from the $81.5 billion in industry shipments reported in 2008 to $52.4 billion in 2009. By the end of 2010, shipments increased to $74.2 billion and continued to increase in 2011 to $85.1 billion.

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The survey also provides detailed information on employment, payroll, and more than 100 additional statistics that help us further understand this industry. These data show the sharp decline in employment in this industry, from 61,779 in 2008 to 52,548 in 2009, a 14.9 percent drop. However, similar to the trend in industry shipments, employment started to recover in 2010 with employment reaching 60,421.

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Released today was information on the U.S. auto manufacturing industry from the 2012 Economic Census. The Economic Census provides data not available in the Annual Survey of Manufactures, including detailed products statistics, data on specific materials consumed, and local area information down to the metro, county, and place levels. These statistics from the ASM and Economic Census (in conjunction with our detailed imports and exports data and information from other Census Bureau economic programs) are critical to understanding our diverse and ever-changing U.S. manufacturing industry. These data are invaluable to U.S. businesses interested in expanding their operations as well as foreign manufacturing businesses that are interested in investing in the U.S.

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The Annual Survey of Manufacturers is conducted annually, except for years ending in 2 and 7, at which time ASM statistics are included in the manufacturing sector of the Economic Census.

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