A Portrait of U.S. Factoryless Goods Producers
This paper evaluates the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent data collection efforts to classify business entities that engage in an extreme form of production fragmentation called “factoryless” goods production. “Factoryless” goods-producing entities outsource physical transformation activities while retaining ownership of the intellectual property and control of sales to customers. Responses to a special inquiry on the incidence of purchases of contract manufacturing services in combination with data on production inputs and outputs, intellectual property, and international trade is used to identify and document characteristics of “factoryless” firms in the U.S. economy.
I thank Emek Basker, Teresa Fort, Brent Moulton, John Murphy, and seminar participants at the Census Bureau Economic Research seminar for valuable comments, and Nikolas Zolas for generously sharing data on firm ownership of intellectual property. I thank James Boohaker for outstanding research assistance. Jim Fetzer and William Wisinewski provided timely disclosure assistance. Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, or the National Bureau of Economic Research. All results have been reviewed to ensure that no confidential information is disclosed.
Forthcoming: A Portrait of US Factoryless Goods Producers, Fariha Kamal. in Challenges of Globalization in the Measurement of National Accounts, Ahmad, Moulton, Richardson, and van de Ven. 2022