15 Cities With the Most Manufacturing Jobs

Factory Engineer Operating Hydraulic Tube Bender
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Smartest Dollar.

Since its peak in 1979, manufacturing employment in the U.S. has been on the decline, accelerating sharply around the turn of the century. Despite modest gains since 2010, the number of manufacturing jobs remains far below previous levels.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2019, just 8.5% of workers were employed in the manufacturing sector, totaling less than 13 million jobs.

The share of employment in manufacturing varies significantly across cities and states — some parts of the country depend much more on manufacturing work than others.

To find the metropolitan areas with the most manufacturing jobs, researchers at Smartest Dollar used employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the share of workers employed in manufacturing. Researchers also looked at the percentage change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999 and the total number of manufacturing jobs in 2019 and 1999.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis.

Here are the large metropolitan areas with the largest share of workers employed in manufacturing.

15. Seattle

Seattle, Washington
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 8.8%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -19.1% (43,700 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 184,700
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 228,400

14. Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 8.8%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -35.3% (229,100 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 419,500
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 648,600

13. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina
Kevin M. McCarthy / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 9.0%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -29.3% (46,000 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 111,200
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 157,200

12. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 9.3%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -37.1% (30,900 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 52,400
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 83,300

11. Minneapolis

Minneapolis, Minnesota
nikitsin.smugmug.com / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 9.9%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -17.0% (41,200 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 200,700
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 241,900

10. Hartford, Connecticut

The skyline of Hartford Connecticut, where median rents are relatively low
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 10.4%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -21.0% (16,100 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 60,400
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 76,500

9. Rochester, New York

Rochester, New York
Sirichai netthong / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 10.5%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -47.5% (51,100 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 56,500
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 107,600

8. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon waterfront
Josemaria Toscano / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 10.6%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -8.9% (12,700 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 129,300
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 142,000

7. Cincinnati

Cincinnati
Anne Kitzman / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 10.8%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -18.8% (27,900 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 120,600
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 148,500

6. Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio
Pedro Gutierrez / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 11.4%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -37.2% (73,000 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 123,500
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 196,500

5. Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 12.3%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -12.7% (12,100 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 83,000
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 95,100

4. Detroit

Detroit, Michigan
Harold Stiver / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 12.6%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -30.6% (113,900 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 257,900
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 371,800

3. Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 13.7%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -28.4% (47,500 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 120,000
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 167,500

2. San Jose, California

The skyline of San Jose, which has a lower median rent than median mortgage payment
stellamc / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 15.1%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -26.6% (62,700 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 173,000
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 235,700

1. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 21.0%
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -9.0% (11,800 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 2019: 119,000
  • Total manufacturing jobs in 1999: 130,800

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