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Defining Advanced Manufacturing at the Industry Level

And Pinpointing Its Growing Hubs

October 2, 2015 by Laura Pizzo

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 Name2011 Jobs2015 Jobs2011 - 2015 Change2011 - 2015 % ChangeCurrent Total Earnings
Railroad Rolling Stock Manufacturing21,12428,6147,49035%$85,307
Motor Vehicle Manufacturing161,246217,18655,94035%$97,556
Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing446,832557,313110,48125%$68,643
Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing115,579144,14028,56125%$58,378
Ship and Boat Building122,718143,44520,72717%$77,110
Agriculture, Construction, and Mining Machinery Manufacturing225,747255,63329,88613%$86,331
Other General Purpose Machinery Manufacturing239,579270,99631,41713%$79,232
Other Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing66,42274,7148,29212%$63,891
Alumina and Aluminum Production and Processing56,91961,5214,6028%$76,681
Engine, Turbine, and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing98,684105,9017,2177%$89,799
Household Appliance Manufacturing56,27360,3884,1157%$80,564
Industrial Machinery Manufacturing102,720109,3956,6756%$91,159
Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing157,637167,5019,8646%$183,627
Foundries121,812129,1437,3316%$65,029
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing269,865283,26313,3985%$153,332
Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing267,227280,30713,0805%$68,803
Basic Chemical Manufacturing142,794148,6745,8804%$120,069
Resin, Synthetic Rubber, and Artificial Synthetic Fibers and Filaments Manufacturing90,19293,5633,3714%$106,971
Electrical Equipment Manufacturing138,496143,2894,7933%$91,949
Other Transportation Equipment Manufacturing33,24334,0958523%$76,168
Iron and Steel Mills and Ferroalloy Manufacturing91,60093,1311,5312%$98,704
Electric Lighting Equipment Manufacturing45,15945,7575981%$79,412
Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing305,364305,6062420%$91,951
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing485,310483,880-1,4300%$119,009
Clay Product and Refractory Manufacturing40,40140,059-342--1%$61,001
Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing19,79319,579-214-1%$107,111
Other Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing124,859123,311 -1,548-1%$85,852
Other Chemical Product and Preparation Manufacturing84,94883,409 -1,539-2%$84,870
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing110,853107,650 -3,203-3%$160,709
Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing404,991390,954 -14,037-3%$110,565
Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing383,513369,730 -13,783-4%$114,351
Pesticide, Fertilizer, and Other Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing35,95134,545 -1,406-4%$102,730
Commercial and Service Industry Machinery Manufacturing91,62388,018 -3,605-4%$83,703
Communications Equipment Manufacturing115,25090,368 -24,882-22%$123,922
Manufacturing and Reproducing Magnetic and Optical Media22,40417,541 -4,863-22%$115,371
Total5,297,1275,602,620305,4936%$98,509
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.

20151001 Adv Mfg Chart-10

For more on EMSI data—available at the county, MSA, and ZIP code level—or to see data for your region, contact us. Follow EMSI on Twitter (@DesktopEcon) or check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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