GLOBAL TRADE’S 2021 TOP STATES AND CITIES FOR MANUFACTURING - Global Trade Magazine
  August 12th, 2021 | Written by

GLOBAL TRADE’S 2021 TOP STATES AND CITIES FOR MANUFACTURING

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  • Manufacturing is starting to rebound in some of the harder-hit places.
  • If your business is oil or oil adjacent, Texas is still the place to be.
  • The Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, metropolitan area holds the title for most manufacturing jobs.

While 2020 was by no means an ordinary year, manufacturing still remains a strong industry in the United States, largely due to manufacturers keeping on their toes and pivoting when necessary. While some categories were able to chug along at the same output as usual, others changed their products to keep with the times, adding hand sanitizer or PPE to their product lines. Some, unfortunately, have not been as lucky, with supply shortages crippling or slowing output.

In better news, manufacturing is starting to rebound in some of the harder-hit places. In fact, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, manufacturing jobs saw growth in March that is expected to continue throughout the year. According to the Institute for Supply Management’s most recent survey, manufacturing saw the fastest expansion growth in March 2021 since December 1983.

That’s great news for manufacturing, but a welcome consequence of rapid expansion is a need for more employees. So, where do you go when you need a skilled workforce that’s ready to go? Here’s a list of the best areas for the top manufacturing categories in the United States.

Pharmaceuticals

While many areas around the U.S. boast a strong pharmaceutical economy, Cambridge, Massachusetts, remains the top spot for biotech in the country. The state even offers generous incentives to companies looking to expand in its slice of New England, including tax benefits, incubators, education and pre-permitted worksites.

With the most highly educated workforce in the country and 18 out of the 20 top biotech companies in the world boasting at least a location in the Boston area, Massachusetts should definitely be on your shortlist if you’re looking for biotech or pharmaceutical manufacturing space.

Automotive

With apologies to some states in the South and areas along the U.S.-Mexico border where automotive manufacturing is thriving and growing, Michigan is still the king—undeniably. With nearly 1,000 automotive-related manufacturing companies, a highly skilled workforce, ample connections and—let’s face it—a deep and rich vehicle history, Michigan once again tops the list, towering over its most closely-ranked competitors. 

In 2020, manufacturing made up nearly 20 percent of the state’s total output, while workers from the sector filled 14.20 percent of Michigan’s jobs, according to data from the National Association of Manufacturers.

Oil Production

If your business is oil or oil adjacent, Texas is still the place to be. With chemicals, petroleum and coal ranking as the top three industries in the state, Texas has abundant natural resources and the skilled workforce to get the job done right. In fact, the Lone Star State was responsible for more than 40 percent of U.S. oil production in 2019 as well as 25 percent of the country’s total natural gas output.

Texas is home to the popular Texas Enterprise Fund, an economic development incentive that helps incoming businesses. The state still boasts its own power grid and is No. 1 in oil, gas and wind energy.

Computers and Electronics

When it comes to computer manufacturing, California naturally gets the top spot. Home to Silicon Valley, computers are California’s largest industry, raking in a whopping $93.1 billion in 2015. According to Wall Street, that’s more than the economy of 14 other states combined! 

California also has a highly-skilled computer science manufacturing workforce, with a variety of tech jobs and strong education programs that attract top talent from all around the world.

Food Production

Once again, California takes the lead when it comes to manufacturing, only this time we are referencing the food manufacturing category. With a pleasant climate and ample farming space, California is an ideal place for farming and food manufacturing. 

California is home to such food manufacturing giants as Annie’s and Del Monte, and between the state’s farm community and skilled food manufacturing workforce, your business will be in good hands in the Golden State.

Quality of Life

Though you can’t manufacture quality of life per se, there’s something to be said for locating your manufacturing business somewhere with a high quality of life for yourself and your workers. For the quality of life metrics, San Jose, California, tops the list. One of the top cities for manufacturing in 2020, San Jose is home to more than 65,000 manufacturing jobs. The city’s manufacturing output was $76 billion in 2018 alone.

As for the quality of life, San Jose is No. 1 for college readiness for high school students, and the city’s mild climate and small city feel earned it the 19th spot (out of 150) in the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index. Even WalletHub named San Jose the “second happiest place to live in America,” and U.S. News & World Report named the city the third best place to live in America in 2017.

Most Manufacturing Job Growth

Hinesville, Georgia, earns the top spot for manufacturing growth, expanding an impressive 27.50 percent between 2017 and 2018. With nearly 18 percent of its total workforce in manufacturing, Hinesville has also seen recent increases in job growth.

The city, which is home to manufacturers in the paper and plastics industries, among others, was recently named No. 3 for manufacturing workers by SmartAsset.

Top State for Manufacturing, Overall

For the top spot for manufacturing overall, California again takes the crown, with its electronics and computer manufacturing grossing well over the $100 million mark. In 2020, the Golden State employed 1.2 million workers at nearly 39,000 companies, with average pay for a manufacturing engineer coming in around $77k, according to Salary.com. California consistently ranks higher for manufacturing salaries compared to the national average.

The state had $149.56 billion in manufactured goods exports in 2019, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, and has grown 19.87 percent in manufactured goods exports between the years of 2010 and 2019.

Most Manufacturing Jobs

The Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, metropolitan area holds the title for most manufacturing jobs with approximately 38 percent of the region’s workforce in the manufacturing industry, according to the county website. (A recent Fox News report claims it’s actually a whopping 58 percent!)

The area has nearly 1,000 manufacturing companies spanning 14 industries, including recreational vehicle manufacturers Thor Industries and Forest River, Inc. A versatile, skilled workforce is ready to work for new and expanding businesses relocating to the community, and the Elkhart County EDC can assist with everything from incentives to training programs.

Whether you’re looking to manufacture automotive products or electronics, food or technology, there’s no need to look abroad: The United States has plenty of sites and skilled workers to suit your business needs.