If there is an occupation that typifies the high-tech, advanced nature of domestic manufacturing, it’s computer control programmers and operators (SOC 51-4010). Since 2009, this occupation has added more than 20,000 jobs, which is a 14.5% growth rate. There are now more than 160,000 computer control programmer and operator jobs in the US.
There are actually two sub-occupations that comprise computer control programmers and operators:
- Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic (SOC 51-4011): Operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.
- Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic (SOC 51-4012): Develop programs to control machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems.
Here is a visual overview of some of the key stats for the occupations, both of which are part of a major post-recession resurgence of production jobs:
First, you’ll notice there is a high concentration of these jobs in the upper Midwest and Northeast. Most of the jobs are held by men, and there is an even split between workers 45 and over and 44 and under. So, as is the case with many manufacturing-based occupations, we see an aging Rust Belt workforce, which usually translates to employers scrambling to figure out how to attract younger replacement workers.
A big issue that these employers might want to consider is wages. The median wage for these jobs is $17.74 nationally, which might be too low if a new crop of workers is needed. Chances are that as the qualifications for these jobs increase, so will the income.
Now let’s turn our attention to the geographic distribution. Below we have produced a ranking of states with the highest concentration (based on location quotient) of computer control programmers and operators.
- Indiana – At nearly three times the average national concentration (LQ of 2.96), Indiana, by far, is the most specialized state for these jobs. And with a 25% increase in employment, or nearly 2,000 new jobs in just three years, its growth rate is also impressive. There are now more than 10,000 of these jobs across the state. Wages in Indiana are below the national average.
- Michigan – With more than 11,000 jobs, Michigan has the second-highest concentration (LQ of 2.41). The state has enjoyed 30% employment growth rate for computer control programmers and operators since 2009. This translates to 2,600 new jobs, and pay in Michigan is on par with the national average.
- Wisconsin – Wisconsin has 7,000 jobs and a concentration of 2.24, which again means that computer control programmers and operators are more than twice as concentrated in this state than the national average. Pay is also above the national average, and jobs have grown by 17% since 2009.
- Ohio – The Buckeye State has the most computer control programmers and operators jobs in the US — just over 13,000 — and an LQ of 2.15. Pay is close to the national average and jobs have increased by nearly 14% since 2009.
- Iowa – Iowa has nearly 4,000 of these jobs and a concentration of 2.14. Since 2009, the employment has increased by 27%. Pay is also above the national average.
For a complete list of computer control programmers and operators by state, see the list below.
|State Name||2009 Jobs||2012 Jobs||Change||% Change||Median Hourly Earnings||2012 National Location Quotient|
|District of Columbia||22||24||2||9.1%||$20.95||0.03|
Knowlege and Skills
When we look at jobs like this, it is always helpful to understand what kind of knowledge and skills they have. We used O*NET data inside Analyst, our web-based labor market tool, and made a list of the top areas.
The top knowledge areas (see below) are math, mechanical, and design. Production & processing and computers & electronics are also important.
From a skills perspective, programming, monitoring, active learning, and reading comprehension are key on-the-job activities.
Finally, it’s helpful for us to better understand what industries are staffing computer control programmers and operators.
- Machine shops – According to EMSI data, the top industry that employs computer control programmers and operators is machine shops. Nearly 18% of all the programers and operators are staffed in machine shops.
- Special fixture manufacturing – This industry employs more than 5,000 computer control programmers and operators, which accounts for 3.2% of all jobs in this occupation.
- Aircraft manufacturing – This industry employs nearly 3% of all these workers (nearly 4,700 jobs in all).
- All other motor vehicle parts manufacturing – This industry employs 2.4% of all these workers (about 4,000 jobs).
- All other plastic product manufacturing – This industry employs 2.3% of all these workers (almost 3,800 jobs).
A more complete list of the top industries is below.
|NAICS Code||Industry||Occupation Jobs in Industry (2012)||% of Occupation in Industry (2012)||% of Total Jobs in Industry (2012)|
|333514||Special Die and Tool, Die Set, Jig, and Fixture Manufacturing||5,229||3.2%||8.0%|
|336399||All Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing||3,919||2.4%||3.1%|
|326199||All Other Plastics Product Manufacturing||3,784||2.3%||1.4%|
|333511||Industrial Mold Manufacturing||2,865||1.8%||8.0%|
|332721||Precision Turned Product Manufacturing||2,839||1.8%||6.9%|
|332999||All Other Miscellaneous Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing||2,658||1.6%||4.5%|
|332722||Bolt, Nut, Screw, Rivet, and Washer Manufacturing||2,575||1.6%||6.8%|
|336413||Other Aircraft Parts and Auxiliary Equipment Manufacturing||2,163||1.3%||2.1%|
|336350||Motor Vehicle Transmission and Power Train Parts Manufacturing||2,005||1.2%||3.1%|
|333515||Cutting Tool and Machine Tool Accessory Manufacturing||1,990||1.2%||7.9%|
|333512||Machine Tool (Metal Cutting Types) Manufacturing||1,940||1.2%||7.6%|
|336370||Motor Vehicle Metal Stamping||1,919||1.2%||2.9%|
|561320||Temporary Help Services||1,816||1.1%||0.1%|
|336412||Aircraft Engine and Engine Parts Manufacturing||1,696||1.1%||2.2%|
|333415||Air-Conditioning and Warm Air Heating Equipment and Commercial and Industrial Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturing||1,679||1.0%||1.9%|
|333120||Construction Machinery Manufacturing||1,678||1.0%||2.3%|
|334413||Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing||1,625||1.0%||0.8%|
|336360||Motor Vehicle Seating and Interior Trim Manufacturing||1,598||1.0%||3.0%|
|339112||Surgical and Medical Instrument Manufacturing||1,580||1.0%||1.3%|
Data and analysis from this report came from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market tool. Please contact Rob Sentz (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions or comments. Follow us @desktopecon.