Supply Chain Shout Out: Forklift Power

Powered industrial trucks, or forklifts, are an indispensible part of doing business for logistics operations. They are used to move and lift materials and offer load capacities from a few thousand pounds up to 180,000 pounds. They also come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the application: lift trucks, tow tractors, rough terrain vehicles, motorized hand-pallet trucks, and automated guide vehicles.

It’s now possible to quantify the impact the powered industrial truck manufacturing sector has on American business, specifically the firms that use them and the logistics personnel who purchase them.

According to a June 2017 report “Lifting America: The Economic Impact of Industrial Truck Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers,” powered industrial truck manufacturers, dealers, and distributors supported more than 209,600 jobs in 2015.

That includes more than 59,700 manufacturing employees, sales, and support staff directly, but additionally, for each worker employed by the powered industrial truck sector, a further 2.5 jobs are supported in the wider economy. That includes the supply chains of powered industrial truck manufacturers or through the wage spending of those employed by the firms themselves or their supply chains. On average, these indirect and induced jobs pay an average salary of $50,915.

Those are exacting details, but there is more that impacts logistics equipment purchasers and the supply chains they support. For example, the report quotes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stating there are more than 540,000 powered industrial truck operators currently employed in the United States, operating in all 50 states and working in more than 300 different industries. The top consumers of powered industrial trucks include warehousing and storage.

Powered Industrial Trucks’ Overall Economic Impact

But perhaps one of the more significant pieces of data from the report shows that the economic contribution of powered industrial truck manufacturers, dealers, and distributors amounted to more than $25.7 billion in U.S. gross domestic product in 2015, as well as $5.3 billion in taxes to local, state, and federal governments.

Of that $25.7 billion total contribution to gross domestic product, roughly $14.9 billion results from supply chain and consumer spending activities. That spreads the benefits of the sector to other parts of the U.S. economy—those that are purchasers of logistics equipment support. That includes $3.5 billion in trade, transportation and utilities; $2.1 billion in professional and business services; and $1.1 billion in education and health services.

The economic contribution of powered industrial truck manufacturing extends far beyond the plants where they are produced. The large demand for forklifts facilitates the need for additional support services, including distribution and logistics but also retail, leasing, and rental operations; distribution and logistics; and training, maintenance, and repair services. These support activities generate additional economic value throughout the U.S. economy.

The report has important implications for the industrial truck manufacturing industry and virtually every industry it supports.

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