With the United States coming off of a certain degree of economic turmoil, rising wages in China, and industrial production decline in Europe, many executives in the U.S. have begun looking back home for manufacturing. As a result, American manufacturing is experiencing a bit of resurgence. Here is a look at U.S. cities experiencing a boom in manufacturing, the industries, and why.

Technology and Manufacturing

The demand for highly skilled engineers and scientists for tech companies in Silicon Valley may get a lot of attention, and the tech companies like Facebook and Google may be glamorous, but there is a larger connection between technology and manufacturing that is overlooked. It turns out that over 50 percent of scientists and engineers work in manufacturing companies.

Considered a leader in manufacturing, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area has a healthy balance of manufacturing and technology, with manufacturing employment expanding by 7.9 percent from 2011 to 2012. A lot of this expansion is in the aerospace sector, due to the presence of Boeing. Other parts of the country do not have this abundance of high-wage jobs that results from growth in high-tech employment.

In The Spotlight

The same balance can be found in Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake City has seen 5.1 percent manufacturing employment growth from electronics and aerospace, including a new Northrop Grumman facility and expansion of medical device company Biomerics. In addition, Austin, Texas, and the cities of Round Rock and San Marcos, in particular, have seen manufacturing growth thanks to semiconductor firms, high tech electronics, medical devices and automobile-related technologies at a rate of more than 5 percent.

Manufacturing in Energy

In the energy-rich southwest, energy companies and the fossil fuels industry are driving a manufacturing boom. Petrochemical companies, for example, are increasing their drilling and exploration, and in turn need drill rigs and other machinery, which require manufacturing. With this energy manufacturing increase, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Forth Worth are a bit of an energy belt, and are on the rise as far as manufacturing is concerned. For example, the shale boom propelled a 6 percent increase in Oklahoma City, and has shown no signs of slowing down. San Antonio has seen a 2.3 percent increase, thanks to a manufacturing presence from companies like Pratt & Whitney, Caterpillar and Toyota. Fort Worth, on the other hand, saw 3.4 percent growth in manufacturing employment.

The area that has seen the most manufacturing growth is in Houston.

The area that has seen the most manufacturing growth is in Houston. Thanks to growth in the areas of Sugar Land and Baytown, Houston has become the third biggest manufacturing center in the nation after Chicago and Los Angeles. Manufacturing employment has actually increased since the recession, which is incredibly rare.

Manufacturing in the Rustbelt

The Midwest, which is typically known for manufacturing, has a few areas that have seen a significant spike recently. In Michigan, suburban cities Warren, Troy and Farmington Hills, a short distance from once-great manufacturing juggernaut Detroit, are growing by focusing on automobile industry technology. Manufacturing employment in America’s new “automation alley,” as it’s being called, has a rich concentration of skilled tradespeople and industrial engineers, and has grown a whopping 9 percent.

In Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Waukesha have become known for precision equipment and machine tools, experiencing a 3.6 percent growth. Lastly, the Cincinnati-Middletown area, including parts of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, has also benefitted from growth in industrial employment, boasting a 6 percent jump in manufacturing employment.

These aren’t the only areas that have seen recent success in manufacturing, but some areas of the U.S. are actually falling behind. Many powerhouses in manufacturing and industry, like the nation’s largest, Los Angeles, have been losing manufacturing jobs as a result of the recession, outsourcing, and growth in other areas. Other regions are losing jobs faster, including Philadelphia and New York. Some cities may not care about the loss of manufacturing jobs, if it’s not a large part of their economy. That way of thinking can be challenged, however, by citing the improvement and resulting fortunes from the cities with manufacturing on the rise.


Tom Bonine
About The Author Tom Bonine
Tom Bonine is president of National Metal Fabricators. The Chicago area firm, established in 1944, offers custom fabrication, angle rings, welding, and bar milling services.


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