Top 10 Markets with the Most Manufacturing Graduates

by Josh Bays, on Nov 23, 2015 11:02:31 AM

As more companies evaluate the United States for new manufacturing plants and production investment, addressing the manufacturing labor gap will continue to be a challenge in the site selection process. Hiring and retaining talent to staff manufacturing operations can be a challenge if companies are not developing a pipeline of talent in regions that produce graduates in critical fields.


Education_123908863.jpgSite Selection Group, a global site selection and economic incentive firm specializing in labor analytics, used recent data from the Department of Education to compare the number of graduates in welding, CNC machining and industrial maintenance.


Tulsa produces the most manufacturing graduates

Tulsa, Oklahoma, Houston and Atlanta produced the most collective graduates in welding, CNC machining and industrial maintenance during the 2013-2014 school year.

  1. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa had the most graduates out of any other metro area; however, all 957 completions were in welding. This is mostly driven by graduates from the Tulsa Welding School.

  1. Houston, Texas

The Houston metropolitan statistical area covers a nine-county region along the gulf coast of Texas. In total, 901 students graduated with a degree or certification in welding or CNC machining with  871 welders and 30 CNC machinists.

  1. Atlanta, Georgia

The 29-county Atlanta region graduated 191 students in heavy industrial maintenance and 628 students in welding for a total of 819 manufacturing graduates.

  1. Seattle, Washington

In the Seattle metro area, 715 students graduated from area schools in one of these three fields with 16 in heavy industrial maintenance, 690 in welding, and nine in CNC machining. 

  1. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis had the fifth highest number of manufacturing graduates at 624. Of those, 113 graduates were in heavy industrial maintenance and 511 were in welding.


The table below shows the top 20 metro areas for graduates in heavy industrial maintenance, welding and CNC machining.


 Top 20 Metro Areas for Manufacturing Graduates

Metro AreaHeavy Industrial
Tulsa, OK 0 957 0 957
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 0 871 30 901
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 191 628 0 819
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 16 690 9 715
St. Louis, MO-IL 113 511 0 624
Jacksonville, FL 0 565 18 583
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 118 372 75 565
Shreveport-Bossier City, LA 70 495 0 565
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 0 496 0 496
Lexington-Fayette, KY 226 260 0 486
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 42 257 180 479
Paducah, KY-IL 89 368 0 457
Bogalusa, LA 18 389 0 407
Monroe, LA 8 397 1 406
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 0 406 0 406
Lafayette, LA 30 318 0 348
Dayton, OH 14 298 30 342
Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY 177 156 0 333
Somerset, KY 76 250 0 326
Baton Rouge, LA 5 309 0 314




When locating a manufacturing plant, it is critical to consider all industrial graduate statistics to assess the pipeline of future talent. High numbers of college completions may not mean that certain skills dominate the market, especially since much of the industrial labor force may come straight from high school. Site Selection Group advises its clients to thoroughly consider all implications of the data to choose the best place for a new location



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