Professionals in workforce development, economic development, and higher education are fighting to make their communities well suited for advanced manufacturing industries. Why all the buzz? Because advanced manufacturing typically offers competitive wages, contributes handsomely to a region’s gross regional product, and offers career pathways for workers with a wide variety of education and skills, including many middle-skill jobs.
But the definition of advanced manufacturing is often vague and difficult to define at the industry level. What exactly is it? In a nutshell, advanced manufacturing uses innovative technology to improve products or processes and usually requires fewer (higher-skill, higher-paid) workers than traditional manufacturing. That’s because many lower-skill processes have been automated.
The Brookings Institute recently released a study on 50 advanced industries, defined by industries whose R&D spending per worker fell in the 80th percentile (or higher) of all industries and whose share of workers in occupations that require a high degree of STEM knowledge is above the national average. Manufacturing industries made up 35 of the 50 advanced industries, including motor vehicle manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing, ship and boat building, basic chemical manufacturing, and more.
Bob Potts, an EMSI client and research director at the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, noted that he has had success using these industries to conduct regional advanced manufacturing analysis. In this article, we follow Potts’ example, using this definition to explore both regional and national trends in advanced manufacturing.
Where Are Advanced Manufacturing Jobs Thriving?
In the map below, large bubble sizes indicate high job counts, showing that advanced manufacturing has a significant presence in the local workforce. Green indicates that advanced manufacturing industries have grown in the metro since 2011. Red indicates decline.
This map shows an encouraging amount of job growth in advanced manufacturing industries, especially in southern states such as Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
This growth is especially impressive because, as stated above, advanced manufacturing typically requires fewer workers, so even when these industries are producing and earning more than they have in the recent past, they do not necessarily add jobs. Nonetheless, the majority of large metros are experiencing at least some growth in advanced manufacturing industries.
23 of the 35 advanced manufacturing industries have experienced national job growth since 2011.
The Louisville, Kentucky, metro is the shining example of advanced manufacturing growth (42% since 2011)—largely due to its booming motor vehicle manufacturing industry (more than 5,000 new jobs between 2011 and 2015) as well as its motor vehicle parts manufacturing and household appliance manufacturing industries (each with over 2,500 new jobs).
But not all the news is positive. There is a concentration of red in the Northeast, signaling that the region is losing jobs in advanced manufacturing industries.
This decline is especially evident in Baltimore, Maryland (18% decline since 2011) and Rochester, New York (14% decline). Baltimore has lost nearly all of its iron & steel mills & ferroalloy manufacturing jobs, of which there were over 2,000 in 2011. Similarly, Rochester lost nearly 3,000 jobs in its other chemical product & preparation industry.
A National Look at Advanced Manufacturing Industries
From the map, you can probably guess that advanced manufacturing industries are growing in the United States. In fact, there are over 300,000 new jobs in advanced manufacturing since 2011 (6% growth), which accounts for nearly half of all new manufacturing jobs (618,000 new jobs since 2011, growing at roughly 5%).
But EMSI wanted to dig deeper, taking a look at how individual industries are faring. As it turns out, 23 of the 35 advanced manufacturing industries have experienced national job growth since 2011.
|Industry Name||2011 Jobs||2015 Jobs||2011 - 2015 Change||2011 - 2015 % Change||Current Total Earnings|
|Railroad Rolling Stock Manufacturing||21,124||28,614||7,490||35%||$85,307|
|Motor Vehicle Manufacturing||161,246||217,186||55,940||35%||$97,556|
|Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing||446,832||557,313||110,481||25%||$68,643|
|Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing||115,579||144,140||28,561||25%||$58,378|
|Ship and Boat Building||122,718||143,445||20,727||17%||$77,110|
|Agriculture, Construction, and Mining Machinery Manufacturing||225,747||255,633||29,886||13%||$86,331|
|Other General Purpose Machinery Manufacturing||239,579||270,996||31,417||13%||$79,232|
|Other Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing||66,422||74,714||8,292||12%||$63,891|
|Alumina and Aluminum Production and Processing||56,919||61,521||4,602||8%||$76,681|
|Engine, Turbine, and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing||98,684||105,901||7,217||7%||$89,799|
|Household Appliance Manufacturing||56,273||60,388||4,115||7%||$80,564|
|Industrial Machinery Manufacturing||102,720||109,395||6,675||6%||$91,159|
|Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing||157,637||167,501||9,864||6%||$183,627|
|Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing||269,865||283,263||13,398||5%||$153,332|
|Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing||267,227||280,307||13,080||5%||$68,803|
|Basic Chemical Manufacturing||142,794||148,674||5,880||4%||$120,069|
|Resin, Synthetic Rubber, and Artificial Synthetic Fibers and Filaments Manufacturing||90,192||93,563||3,371||4%||$106,971|
|Electrical Equipment Manufacturing||138,496||143,289||4,793||3%||$91,949|
|Other Transportation Equipment Manufacturing||33,243||34,095||852||3%||$76,168|
|Iron and Steel Mills and Ferroalloy Manufacturing||91,600||93,131||1,531||2%||$98,704|
|Electric Lighting Equipment Manufacturing||45,159||45,757||598||1%||$79,412|
|Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing||305,364||305,606||242||0%||$91,951|
|Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing||485,310||483,880||-1,430||0%||$119,009|
|Clay Product and Refractory Manufacturing||40,401||40,059||-342-||-1%||$61,001|
|Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing||19,793||19,579||-214||-1%||$107,111|
|Other Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing||124,859||123,311||-1,548||-1%||$85,852|
|Other Chemical Product and Preparation Manufacturing||84,948||83,409||-1,539||-2%||$84,870|
|Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing||110,853||107,650||-3,203||-3%||$160,709|
|Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing||404,991||390,954||-14,037||-3%||$110,565|
|Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing||383,513||369,730||-13,783||-4%||$114,351|
|Pesticide, Fertilizer, and Other Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing||35,951||34,545||-1,406||-4%||$102,730|
|Commercial and Service Industry Machinery Manufacturing||91,623||88,018||-3,605||-4%||$83,703|
|Communications Equipment Manufacturing||115,250||90,368||-24,882||-22%||$123,922|
|Manufacturing and Reproducing Magnetic and Optical Media||22,404||17,541||-4,863||-22%||$115,371|
|Source: EMSI 2015.2 (Wage-and-salary employees)|
After railroad rolling stock manufacturing, which tops the list, various types of motor vehicle manufacturing industries are growing the fastest—an especially significant trend because these industries are also among the largest employers in advanced manufacturing.
Unfortunately, many of the declining industries pay high wages. Eight of the 12 declining industries pay average annual earnings of $100,000 or more per job.
A lot of the national job growth in advanced manufacturing is projected to slow down before picking up again in 2020. However, projections are influenced by past performance, so a huge decline in jobs before and after the recession is impacting this trend. See the chart below for historic and projected job counts in these industries.