The U.S. Census Bureau has a new infographic depicting manufacturing’s contribution to American exports. Manufacturing accounts for nearly 60% of all U.S. exports. About one-third of U.S. manufacturers currently export. Despite manufacturing’s considerable contribution to exports, the National Association of Manufacturers maintains that current export rates "represents just a fraction of this country's export potential."
In January 2010, President Obama announced a goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 and adding 2 million jobs as a result. With 18 months to go, there seems little chance that goal will be met, though. In 2009, U.S. exports were just under $1.6 trillion. In 2012, exports had grown to just over $2.2 trillion. And for the first nine months of 2013, total exports are up just 2.1%, with manufactured goods exports lagging even that at 1.5% growth.
Economists cite a number of reasons for the slow growth, from tax and regulatory issues in the U.S. to continuing economic woes in Europe to slowdowns in the once red-hot economies of China and Brazil. The administration is pushing major new free trade agreements with Asia and Europe, but negotiations are still underway on them and they hold little hope for impacting the president’s trade goal. Like many other aspects of the manufacturing economy, it's a story of progress, but much slower progress than anyone is really comfortable with.