Survey Reports on COVID-19 Impacts on U.S. Manufacturing and Industrial Sectors

Thomas has released a survey reporting on COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. manufacturing and industrial sectors. The survey examined more than 1,000 North American manufacturing and industrial suppliers to determine how they have been affected by the global pandemic as well as trends in the space that will continue to shape the industrial sector post-pandemic.

A key survey finding shows that one in four U.S. manufacturers are considering expanding industrial automation as a result of COVID-19, while an additional 20 percent report they already have systems in place. 

Additionally, 64 percent of manufacturers report they are likely to bring manufacturing production and sourcing back to North America, a 10 percent increase from the same sentiment reported in the March 2020 survey.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will fundamentally redefine how industrial companies approach their supply chains and will further advance the digital transformation of manufacturing. By embracing real-time resource management, redundancy, reshoring, and the convergence between the digital and physical supply chains, manufacturers will come out of this crisis even stronger than they were before,” says Tony Uphoff, president and CEO of Thomas. “It’s encouraging to see that even in the most uncertain and challenging of times, the North American manufacturing sector is adeptly rising to the occasion by pivoting production to address the urgent need for PPE and other medical supplies, hiring additional skilled workers, and supporting the industrial economy.”

Additional key survey findings:      

  • Future of Industry: While 41 percent of manufacturers are predicting a decrease in demand as a result of the outbreak, 91 percent are confident that the sector as a whole will recover.
  • Job Security: 56 percent of manufacturing companies have not laid off employees due to COVID-19, and 30 percent of companies are actively hiring.
  • Impact of Non-Essential Businesses: 64 percent of manufacturers report their business is affected by the shutdown orders impacting other non-essential businesses, with the transportation (77 percent), automotive (75 percent), construction (70 percent), and agricultural (69 percent) sectors most drastically affected.  
  • Relief Efforts: While a majority (85 percent) of all companies surveyed report they have not shifted to produce supplies related to COVID-19 relief efforts, medical and healthcare, agricultural, and automotive manufacturers are leading the charge to produce PPE.
  • Financial Aid: 63 percent of manufacturing companies report having applied for financial assistance and of that group, 60 percent report they applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, 17 percent report they applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and 9 percent report they applied for Debt Relief and Express Bridge Loans from the Small Business Administration. 
  • In-Demand Materials: In order to stabilize supply and keep production on schedule, manufacturers reported the most vital items to be personal protective equipment (42 percent), metals (37 percent), fabricated materials (29 percent), and machining tools and parts (27 percent).


The study was conducted online using Qualtrics. This survey was a follow up to the March survey and is the third installment in the series of surveys examining COVID-19’s impact on U.S. manufacturing. The survey polled over 1,000 North American suppliers with revenues spanning from less than $4.9 million to over $500 million. Get a copy of the Thomas Industrial Survey: COVID-19′ Impact on North American Manufacturers. 

To be a part of future industrial research, join the Thomas Industry Survey Panel to participate in the collection of business intelligence shared on a monthly basis through the Thomas Industry Update daily newsletter.

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