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Visualizing the Importance of Industry in the World's Economy

When measuring economic production around the world, most of what the world produces falls into one of three categories: agriculture, industry (which includes manufacturing), and services. Industry, which is defined as mining, manufacturing, construction, electricity, water, and gas, is the second-largest contributor to worldwide GDP. Our latest series of visualizations look at how industry production contributes to the economy in individual countries around the world.

  • In 2018, industry represented 25% of the world’s GDP, down from 27% in 2010.
  • Since 2014, worldwide employment in the industry sector has dropped from 23.22% to 22.95%.
  • Industry represents a larger percentage of GDP in developing countries compared to developed countries.
  • In general, industry as a share of total GDP is highest in the Middle East, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The information in this visualization comes from the World Bank, which publishes comprehensive data for each country’s GDP as well as the breakdown by agriculture, industry, manufacturing, and services. In a previous article, we illustrated the world’s agricultural output by country. The visualization above focuses on industrial output. The countries in the map are color-coded based on what percentage of the country’s GDP is represented by industry. Lighter shades of orange indicate a smaller share of GDP while darker orange and brown represent a larger share of GDP.

Digging deeper into data from The World Bank also determine how industrial production and employment impact each country’s economy. The visualizations below divide the world into different regions and map out the value of each country’s GDP earned from industry (in U.S. dollars). Only countries with data from 2017 or earlier are considered. In addition, each map visualizes industry employment by the different shades of orange and brown, with lighter shades showing less employment and darker shades showing more employment. To further compare countries’ industry output, the countries appear bigger if their industry output is larger, and the countries appear smaller if their industry output is smaller.

Top 3 Countries in the Americas by Industry Output

1. United States - $3.5 trillion - 19.44% employed in industry
2. Mexico - $381.2 billion - 25.95% employed in industry
3. Brazil - $344.6 billion - 20.43% employed in industry

Even though a smaller percentage of U.S. workers are employed in industry compared to the rest of the Americas, the U.S. is responsible for the most industry output in this region. Countries in the Caribbean, the U.S., and the west coast of South America have a smaller percentage of the population engaged in industry work. Among countries in the Americas, Trinidad & Tobago has the highest percentage of the population working in industry, at 27.34%.

Top 3 Countries in Asia by Industry Output

1. China - $5.5 trillion - 28.62% employed in industry
2. Japan - $1.4 trillion - 24.5% employed in industry
3. India - $736.3 billion - 24.69% employed in industry

When measured by GDP added value, East Asian countries like China, Japan, and South Korea as well as India have the highest industry production in this region. However, countries in the Middle East like Iran and Qatar have the highest percentage of workers employed in industry sectors. In Middle Eastern countries, industry also represents a higher percentage of the country’s GDP.

Top 3 Countries in Africa by Industry Output

1. South Africa - $95.2 billion - 23.24% employed in industry
2. Nigeria - $94.9 billion - 11.55% employed in industry
3. Egypt - $88 billion - 26.58% employed in industry

In general, the African economy relies more on agricultural production than industry. As a notable exception, more than half of GDP in Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes from industry output. In every African country, less than a third of the population is employed in industry sectors.

Top 3 Countries in Europe by Industry Output

1. Germany - $1.1 trillion - 27.13% employed in industry
2. United Kingdom - $508.6 billion - 21.11% employed in industry
3. France - $469.3 billion - 20.32% employed in industry

Overall, countries in Western Europe have much higher industry output than countries in Eastern Europe. In most European countries, less than a third of each country’s population is employed in industry, with the exception of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Similarly, Ireland and Azerbaijan are the only European countries in which more than a third of GDP comes from industry.

Top 3 Countries in Oceania by Industry Output

1. Australia - $344 billion - 19.38% employed in industry
2. Timor-Leste - $1.1 billion - 9.44% employed in industry
3. Fiji - $880 million - 13.08% employed in industry

Countries in Oceania have very low employment in industry, with less than 20% of each country’s population engaged in an industry field. In Samoa, almost half of the country’s GDP is represented by industry, much higher than the other countries in Oceania.

Despite the ongoing trade war with China, U.S. manufacturing production (a component of industry) has been growing in recent months. This slight improvement in one of the weaker sectors of the economy alleviates some of the tension built up regarding a possible recession.

However, business leaders are divided when it comes to how the trade war with China will ultimately affect U.S. manufacturing. Some see the trade war as an opportunity to lower manufacturing costs by outsourcing to other countries and stop relying as much on China’s industrial production. However, other industrial sectors, like steel, are still worried about the future due to falling prices and low demand.

Outside of the U.S., the future also holds new challenges for developing countries. For example, Africa’s manufacturing production is set to double in the coming years, but the question remains how far its growth can go.

What do you think will be the future of industry in the U.S. and around the world? Please let us know in the comments.

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Juan Carlos

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