Public Release: 

18 million workers produced more than one-fifth of US gross domestic product in 2012

Commercial knowledge and technology-intensive industries play a big role in US economy

National Science Foundation

In 2012, knowledge intensive (KI) services industries--business, finance and information--produced $3.4 trillion in value-added output, more than one-fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), and employed 18 million workers. Data are from a new report released today by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

KI services industries and the smaller high-technology (HT) manufacturing industries--aerospace, communications, computers, pharmaceuticals, scientific instruments and semiconductors--make up commercial knowledge and technology-intensive (KTI) industries. KI services industries employed 18 million workers and produced 22 percent of GDP. HT manufacturing industries employed 2 million workers and produced 2 percent of GDP in 2012.

KTI industries have a particularly strong link to science and technology and perform three-fourths of U.S. business research and development, an important source of innovation and economic growth.

Employment in KTI industries represented 15 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2012, with workers performing activities such as manufacturing, computer systems design, architectural and engineering, data processing, radio and television broadcasting hosting and other related services. A complete list can be found in the NCSES report.

The report also finds wages for U.S. commercial KTI industries workers are much higher than they are in other industries. In 2011, the average salaries of KI services industries and HT manufacturing industries were more than $20,000 higher than the private-sector average. However, average salaries vary widely among individual commercial KI services and HT manufacturing industries.

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