Industry can have one of three meanings:

  • Economically or otherwise productive activity ("For all its brevity, the Wikipedia contribution was the fruit of his industry");
  • A particular area of economic production ("the garment industry"), more properly described in non-manufacturing contexts as a sector or subsector; or
  • That part of all economic activity comprising mining, manufacturing. construction and utility provision.

The term survives in the second sense in the International Standard Industrial Classification and national variants, which identify sectors of economic activity for statistical and national accounting purposes.

The third use of the term is that most likely to be encountered in everyday parlance, though its intended meaning may vary, sometimes coinciding with manufacturing proper, as in "an industrial worker" rather than "a miner" or "a builder".

Industry in the latter sense remains a key sector of production in most countries, contributing perhaps a third of world economic output (more than agriculture's share, but now less than that of the service sector).

Most industrial output remains in the manufacturing sector, especially among developed countries, though construction and mining remain substantial components overall.