New Report Identifies Cities with Most Manufacturing Jobs
Denrie Caila Perez posted on November 20, 2020 |
Manufacturing employment has declined rapidly over the past two decades.
Grand Rapids-Kentwood, Mich., had the largest share of manufacturing employment at 21 percent. (Photo courtesy of Alamy Stock Photo.)
Grand Rapids-Kentwood, Mich., had the largest share of manufacturing employment at 21 percent. (Photo courtesy of Alamy Stock Photo.)

Researchers at Smartest Dollar reported that manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have continued to decline despite the rise in manufacturing output since 2010. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics observed that manufacturing accounted for 13 percent or 17.3 million nonfarm labor jobs back in 1999. As of 2019, this had dwindled to only 8.5 percent, which is less than 13 million jobs. Surprisingly, even while most manufacturing work is now outsourced overseas, the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. has steadily grown. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the index of manufacturing labor productivity is now 2.5 times greater compared to the earliest index data produced back in 1987. This is primarily attributed to technological advancement in machinery, increased worker skills, as well as optimized industrial operations.

This shift has been reflected in most cities across the U.S. In fact, the number of manufacturing jobs has dropped in virtually every state since the early 2000s. States that had the largest share of manufacturing employment saw a significantly bigger drop in job numbers. Indiana (17.1 percent) and Wisconsin (16.2 percent) have both lost over 100,000 manufacturing jobs since 1999. To determine the trend in U.S. metropolitan areas, the researchers at Smartest Dollar ranked metropolitan areas according to the share of workers currently employed in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing output has risen despite the decline in employment over the past two decades. (Data courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics/Smartest Dollar.)
Manufacturing output has risen despite the decline in employment over the past two decades. (Data courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics/Smartest Dollar.)

In addition to this, the percentage change in total manufacturing jobs from 1999 was included. To show the trend, the researchers also compared the total number of manufacturing jobs in 2019 and 1999. Only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were selected for the study. Metro areas were subsequently grouped based on their population size. Those with population sizes between 100,000 to 349,999 were grouped under small metros, those with populations of 350,000 to 999,999 were grouped under midsize metros, and cities with populations of 1,000,000 or more were grouped under large metros.

Data was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Survey from 2019 and 1999.

According to their findings, the Grand Rapids metro area in Kentwood, Mich. had over twice the national average of manufacturing jobs. This makes the area the large metro with the largest employment share of manufacturing at 21 percent. It also had the least loss in total manufacturing jobs between 2019 and 1999, with 119,000 and 130,800 jobs, respectively. Similarly, large and midsize metros that had the most manufacturing jobs lost approximately one-fourth of manufacturing jobs on average since 1999. In comparison, smaller cities with the most manufacturing jobs lost 15 percent of their total manufacturing jobs over the past two decades.

Decline in manufacturing jobs per state over the past two decades. (Data courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics from 2019 and 1999.)
Decline in manufacturing jobs per state over the past two decades. (Data courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics from 2019 and 1999.)

Other metro areas mentioned in the study are San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; Milwaukee-Waukesha, Wis.; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.; Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.; Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.; Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oreg.-Wash.; Rochester, N.Y.; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.; Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.; Buffalo-Cheektowaga, N.Y.; Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.; Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.; and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

Smartest Dollar’s research findings by metro size. (Data courtesy of Smartest Dollar.)
Smartest Dollar’s research findings by metro size. (Data courtesy of Smartest Dollar.)

The Great Recession (which occurred between 2007 and 2009) saw both manufacturing employment and output figures drop. Smartest Dollar expects that the current recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will also significantly impact the manufacturing sector. However, it is more likely to recover much more rapidly compared to industries such as hospitality, travel and tourism, which have been severely affected.

Smartest Dollar shares that while employment numbers met a sharp decline over the past two decades, manufacturing will continue to remain a relevant industry in most parts of the country.

For more news and stories, check out the how metamorphic manufacturing might be the third wave of digital manufacturing here.

Recommended For You