7 States with Booming Manufacturing Industries

 

 

Although America isn’t the manufacturing powerhouse it was 50 years ago, manufacturing software innovations like cloud-based ERP have helped many industries rebound. Having the right technology is only one piece of the puzzle. States and cities need to have workforces large enough to allow a manufacturer to grow, as well as economic policies that foster growth in small and large businesses.

 

Despite the recession of the mid-2000s, American manufacturing is thriving in some surprising areas. The Sun Belt and Rust Belt are still in contention, but other states are seeing unprecedented industrial growth as well. As the global economy shifts, individual states’ manufacturing capacities are showing some interesting trends.

 

1. California

While the state still isn’t an overall leader in manufacturing, there is considerable growth in midsize cities like Berkeley and Oakland. The Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley area has seen a 22 percent jump in manufacturing jobs since 2012. San Diego has also seen a considerable hike. 

 

Statewide, manufacturing output was a massive $300 billion in 2017. More notably, though, the average manufacturing salary is over $105,000.

 

The driving force behind these statistics is the tech industry. As Silicon Valley thrives, its businesses often seek convenient local manufacturing facilities. Thus, the tech boom hasn’t just been good for white-collar workers–it’s been a blessing to blue-collar workers as well.

 

2. Florida

The tourism industry isn’t the only thing driving Florida’s economic growth. In the past several years, aerospace and pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs in the Orlando and Miami metro areas have spiked. In 2017, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area saw a 7.6 percent increase in manufacturing jobs.

 

Manufacturing still only makes up 4.2 percent of the workforce, but that’s perhaps unavoidable since tourism makes up such a massive part of the state’s workers. The state’s total manufacturing output has spiked dramatically to over $50 billion annually, making it a formidable rival to the Rust Belt up north.

 

Florida has manufacturer-friendly economic policies that incentivize economic growth, but it gets buffeted with hurricanes multiple times per year. The state has always proved to be resilient in the face of severe weather and tends to rebuild quickly even after severe hurricanes.

 

3. Michigan

Detroit is famous for what it used to be: A powerhouse of auto manufacturing, home to the Big Three auto companies that changed America. In recent decades, its decline is emblematic of the overall drop in American manufacturing.

 

However, Michigan is slowly reclaiming its crown. Grand Rapids has established itself as a haven for small manufacturing companies. Of the 2,500 manufacturing businesses in its metro area, some 80 percent have less than 250 employees. These bite-sized companies have still allowed the industry to increase. Grand Rapids has seen a 20.5 percent increase in industrial jobs since 2012.

 

Other parts of Michigan have also seen double-digit industrial jobs’ growth in the past several years. The broader Detroit area is seeing manufacturing job growth as well, in large part thanks to auto industry innovations and extensive efforts to revitalize the city. Hopefully, state leaders will work on business-friendly policies that continue to revive this once-thriving center of the American Dream.

 

4. Indiana

Another Rust Belt state has emerged to become an underappreciated oasis for manufacturing. Elkhart and Goshen lead the state in industrial growth in the past several years, and Kokomo isn’t far behind.

 

With nearly $100 billion in manufacturing output in 2017, Indiana has soared above its pre-recession industrial capacity. It has seen a large jump in pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing in particular. As these highly skilled jobs swell in number and attract an educated workforce, the state’s momentum will only continue to accelerate.

 

5. Wisconsin

Like Indiana, Wisconsin isn’t the most famous name in manufacturing, but it’s catching up. Wisconsin added around 19,000 manufacturing jobs in 2018, making it second in the country for industrial job growth. It was on-track to end the year with just under half a million manufacturing jobs across the state.

 

There are caveats to the upward trend. The Milwaukee area, in particular, is stagnating, and the sparsely populated regions of the state can’t support much manufacturing growth at one time. Wisconsin has always been a largely blue-collar state, so manufacturing companies can continue to grow here.

 

6. Texas

Texas was the only state to add more manufacturing jobs than Wisconsin in 2018. Though the statewide percentage of manufacturing jobs stands at just 7.0 percent, its massive population size means that it has approximately 880,000 industrial jobs across the state. These jobs are clustered in the computer, aerospace and pharmaceutical manufacturing subsectors.

 

However, the number of manufacturing jobs in the massive Houston metro area has declined in recent years. The energy industry started to decline after 2012, bringing energy-related manufacturing with it. Other parts of the state show significant promise, and nothing is stopping Houston from making a rebound in the future.

 

7. Utah

Although Utah’s manufacturing output dropped by $1.5 billion from 2010 to 2012, it’s on the rise again.  As of 2018, only 8.8 percent of the state’s jobs were in manufacturing. However, this percentage is increasing rapidly in multiple areas of the state. Salt Lake City has the high-skills, tech-savvy workforce needed to sustain modern manufacturing and other, smaller cities are doing a solid job inviting new business ventures as well.

 

Medical and aerospace manufacturing are on the rise in 2018, and computer part manufacturing is holding out as a perennial favorite. Since many types of medical manufacturing are mostly recession-proof, it’s safe to say that Utah will continue to remain a manufacturing powerhouse for years to come.

 

Where Next?

Manufacturing currently makes up 8.5 percent of American jobs, and these jobs pay 12 percent more than the average wage. Since bulky, heavy goods like steel and cars are hard to move across oceans, at least some American jobs are safe from outsourcing overseas. Basic consumer goods also tend to remain in high demand even when the economy slows.

 

However, no industry is fully recession-proof. Policy leaders will need to keep creating policies that are friendly to small businesses while maintaining competitive wages. With technological improvements in manufacturing ERP and other support systems, American industry is indeed approaching a new renaissance. 




 

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