These industries are increasing their equipment investments the most

Machinery Partner used Census Bureau data to rank the 25 industries that increased their equipment spending most in 2022 compared to 2021.

Paxtyn Merten
Posted 6/6/24

Machinery Partner used Census Bureau data to rank the 25 industries that increased their equipment spending most in 2022 compared to 2021.

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These industries are increasing their equipment investments the most

Machinery Partner used Census Bureau data to rank the 25 industries that increased their equipment spending most in 2022 compared to 2021.

Posted

A woman construction worker wearing a heavy-duty bright green jacket and helmet sitting in front of the computer screen showing a 3D model pointing to the screen in front of a male construction worker.

Shutterstock // Gorodenkoff

Despite ongoing concerns in an uncertain economy, companies continue investing in equipment.

In 2022, companies spent about $1.2 trillion on equipment—about $126.5 billion more than in 2021, Census Bureau data shows. Industries ranging from air transportation to industrial machinery to food services increased their annual equipment spending by billions of dollars in a year, indicating some level of confidence in the continued success of their businesses.

Machinery Partner used data from the Census Bureau's Annual Capital Expenditures Survey to examine the industries investing the most in equipment. This analysis ranked the top 25 industries that increased their equipment spending the most in 2022 compared to 2021.

Companies typically purchase new equipment to make consumer-facing products more efficiently. Despite high upfront costs, investing in advanced tools and equipment upgrades can ease production, lower costs over time, and eventually result in higher company profits. For American consumers, this creates the potential for lower product costs.

Several top-spending industries were in the computer technology sector. Publishers, search engines, software companies, telecommunications providers, and other electric manufacturing companies all added high volumes of new equipment to their arsenals. In an economy otherwise focused more on services than goods, the demand for technology remains strong as devices and web connections become an increasingly integral part of American society.

The 2022 surge in equipment spending among digital industries came in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased demand for stronger home internet connectivity and better personal technologies as companies and schools shifted to remote. The pandemic also forced companies to create or improve their web presence and urged some off of local servers and onto cloud databases. This increased memory equipment needs among the tech companies offering digitization services. More recently, the rise of artificial intelligence is sustaining the demand for computing equipment like specialized, more powerful servers.

The air transportation industry was another leading purchaser of equipment in 2022. A mass return to travel after COVID-19—including projections for record-high passengers this year—put pressure on plane manufacturers and airlines to increase production and services. What's more, recent incidents, such as the January door blowout on a Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft, have heightened public concern for safety. In a high-profile industry already subject to ever-evolving safety and carbon emissions regulations, more stringent requirements may entail even more machinery needs for aviation companies.

Construction, manufacturing, and engineering also ranked high on equipment spending increases. These industries are tasked with building essential infrastructure while contending with labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and strict codes and regulations. Advancements in related equipment, automation, AI, electrification, and other innovations are helping these industries adapt to their current economic challenges.

Since the release of the 2022 data, record inflation and the subsequent interest rate hikes have affected manufacturing across industries, upping the cost of new tools and the credit typically needed for those capital expenses. Despite the impact on cash flows, businesses were continuing to grow equipment investments as recently as March. For a closer look, read on to see which industries have increased their equipment spending most.

#25. Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries

Mother and daughter sliding down water slide, sitting together at inflatable ring and making water splashes.

Shutterstock // Olya Humeniuk

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $1.72 billion (+29%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $7.74 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 40.6%

#24. Industrial, metalworking, and general-purpose machinery manufacturing

A welder in protective gear, including a mask, working on metal.

Shutterstock //Parilov

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $1.73 billion (+39%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $6.13 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 83.0%

#23. Oil and gas extraction

A row of oil pump rigs.

Shutterstock // ded pixto

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $1.86 billion (+20%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $11.13 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 12.5%

#22. Office administrative, facilities, employment, and other support services

A young woman in a business attire sitting at the desk holding a phone close to her ear.

Shutterstock // BearFotos

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $1.89 billion (+32%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $7.80 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 70.4%

#21. Merchant wholesalers, nondurable goods

People wearing green vests and helemts are standing in front of tall shelves stacked with various merchandise.

Shutterstock // PradeepGaurs

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $2.14 billion (+22%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $12.03 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 65.8%

#20. Motor vehicle and parts dealers

A woman and man walking in an industrial facility. One car is on the floor while the other one  is suspended high.

Shutterstock // Gorodenkoff

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $2.18 billion (+55%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $6.11 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 52.8%

#19. General merchandise stores

Young woman customer looking at pieces of clothing in a store, retail sales associate is standing next to her.

Shutterstock // Gorodenkoff

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $2.27 billion (+18%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $14.85 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 48.5%

#18. Food services and drinking places

Black woman chef holding a pan with vegetables in the kitchen at restaurant.

Shutterstock // Drazen Zigic

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $2.43 billion (+21%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $14.16 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 47.2%

#17. Motor vehicle, body, trailer, and parts manufacturing

Three male workers are holding car body parts in a car factory.

Shutterstock // Vasily Smirnov

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $2.60 billion (+9%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $32.47 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 84.7%

#16. Investigation, security, and services to buildings and dwellings

Three people sitting at desks in a dark lit room looking at the multiple screens in front of them. One man holding a laptop is facing three other people in the room.

Shutterstock // Gorodenkoff

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $2.73 billion (+42%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $9.25 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 96.7%

#15. Heavy and civil engineering construction

Two men wearing ornage vests and helmets at the construction site with tall metal rods and a tall crane.

Shutterstock // BELL KA PANG

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $3.11 billion (+29%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $13.67 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 86.7%

#14. Other retail trade stores, including gasoline stations

A large ornage and yellow gas station.

Shutterstock // Scharfsinn

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $3.34 billion (+19%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $21.32 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 62.8%

#13. Food manufacturing

Two men dressed in white work robes and white hats standing in front of the equipment in a factory.

Shutterstock // Gorodenkoff

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $3.55 billion (+18%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $23.54 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 74.1%

#12. Support activities for oil and gas operations

A heavy, tall machinery covered in snow and a trailer parked close by.

Shutterstock // LiteHeavy

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $3.62 billion (+77%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $8.31 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 80.8%

#11. Merchant wholesalers, durable goods

A close-up of a hand holding a barcode scanner pointing to the pile of boxes.

Shutterstock // Dmitry Kalinovsky

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $4.31 billion (+24%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $22.27 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 73.6%

#10. Truck transportation

Truck traffic on the highway going in both directions among green flat land.

Shutterstock // Mike Mareen

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $5.06 billion (+33%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $20.48 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 93.4%

#9. Data processing, hosting, and related services

A sillouhette of a man

Shutterstock // Gorodenkoff

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $5.27 billion (+20%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $31.26 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 62.6%

#8. Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities

Two men looking at charts on a computer screen in an office.

Shutterstock // Ground Picture

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $5.54 billion (+42%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $18.79 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 70.7%

#7. Depository credit intermediation

A young couple sitting opposite a man in a suite at the desk looking over documents.

Shutterstock // Panumas Yanuthai

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $6.25 billion (+24%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $32.60 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 67.8%

#6. Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing

A huge yellow crawler excavator and a construction dump truck standing next to it while working on a sunny day against a blue sky.

Shutterstock // Anna Pasichnyk

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $7.70 billion (+31%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $32.61 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 98.0%

#5. Wired and wireless telecommunications carriers, cable and other program distribution, broadband internet services providers

Tall telecommunication towers with TV antennas and satellite dish on clear blue sky.

Shutterstock // Sasin Paraksa

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $8.73 billion (+13%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $77.15 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 76.3%

#4. Software publishers (except internet)

Black man working on desktop computer in a dimmed office.

Shutterstock // Gorodenkoff

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $10.17 billion (+130%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $18.00 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 90.1%

#3. Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing

A white robot arm inside bright electronics factory.

Shutterstock // IM Imagery

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $11.63 billion (+62%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $30.31 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 74.9%

#2. Air transportation

Few people in green vests are loading cargo on to the plane at the airport.

Shutterstock // mariakray

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $11.92 billion (+107%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $23.02 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 89.4%

#1. Other information services*

A young woman, holding a white cable, examines the IT equipment while a man beside her holds a laptop in a server room.

Shutterstock // PeopleImages.com - Yuri A

- Growth in equipment spending, 2021-22: $14.00 billion (+49%)
- Total expenditures for equipment: $42.82 billion
- Share of total industry expenses put toward equipment: 62.7%

*This broad industry includes web search portals, news syndicates, libraries, archives, and internet publishing and broadcasting sites.

Story editing by Alizah Salario. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Ania Antecka.

This story originally appeared on Machinery Partner and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.