“Made in the U.S.A.” has been in decline for decades, but in the last few years it has shown signs of an incipient comeback. Even as the number of manufacturing jobs has decreased, manufacturing output—the value of goods made here—has increased substantially. We still make $5.4 trillion worth of stuff annually here, and 12.4 million Americans still work in the manufacturing sector. But Trump administration tariffs, speculation about a trade war, and the continued march toward automation make the future of American manufacturing less certain.
For this special report, we surveyed 26 of the largest manufacturers in the country—and a few smaller ones, because their perspective is important—for their thoughts, concerns, and predictions. Their answers to 11 big questions tell us a lot about what lies ahead.