The ability to hire and retain a workforce with production experience remains the top priority for companies seeking to locate new manufacturing operations. However, the unemployment rate for the manufacturing industry is historically low at 4.7%, and despite the manufacturing industry employing 12.2 million people nationally, the competition for workers is as fierce as ever. Therefore, most companies are relegated to hiring from the ranks of the underemployed when they seek critical skills such as basic operators, machinists and maintenance mechanics.
Site Selection Group, a full-service location advisory and economic incentivesfirm, routinely assesses the quantity and concentration of target skill sets while evaluating market wage structures. Those markets that are best positioned to satisfy the entrance of new manufacturing plants are those that have a good existing manufacturing base, a pipeline of talent via a technical or vocational school, and low to moderate wage pressures.
Largest manufacturing labor pools
Site Selection Group provides a full suite of workforce analytics for its manufacturing clients and tracks the latest occupation statistics. Using national industrial employment statistics, Site Selection Group identified the top 10 metro areas with the largest manufacturing labor pools.
Top 10 locations by manufacturing employment
|Location||Total Manufacturing Employment||% of Labor Force|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||498,890||7.16%|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||353,131||3.34%|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||242,411||6.44%|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||237,447||6.95%|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI||193,343||9.61%|
As suspected, the largest metro areas rise to the top. However, these areas do not have the greatest concentration of manufacturing labor. When looking at labor density, the top 10 metro areas based on the concentration of workforce employed in the manufacturing sector looks quite different.
Top 10 locations by manufacturing concentration
|% of Labor
|Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI||107,802||19.79%|
|Green Bay, WI||27,661||15.99%|
|Fort Wayne, IN||32,918||14.92%|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||157,291||14.83%|
While the overall employment in manufacturing is lower than the largest metro areas in the country, this list represents those markets that are more dependent on the sector.
Labor availability by manufacturing sector
Given the unique processes and skill sets employed by various industries in the manufacturing sector, many companies like to cluster in markets with similar operations. In the table below, Site Selection Group identifies the top locations by total employment and concentration for 21 broad industries within manufacturing.
Top locations by total employment &
concentration by manufacturing sector
|Industry||Top Location -
|Top Location -
|Food Manufacturing||New York, NY - 48,289||Dodge City, KS - 31.04%|
|Beverage & Tobacco Mfg.||Napa, CA - 8,197||Napa, CA - 10.59%|
|Textile Mills||Los Angeles, CA - 6,464||Summerville, GA - 11.71%|
|Textile Product Mills||Dalton, GA - 13,675||Dalton, GA - 19.66%|
|Apparel||Los Angeles, CA - 48,017||Dayton, TN - 3.42%|
|Leather Goods & Footwear||Los Angeles, CA - 2,011||Del Rio, TX - 5.25%|
|Wood Products||Dallas, TX - 5,492||Elkins, WV - 7.73%|
|Paper Products||Chicago, IL - 15,685||Hutchinson, MN - 7.35%|
|Printing||Los Angeles - 21,928||Crawfordsville, IN - 5.21%|
|Petroleum||Houston, TX - 8,309||McPherson, KS - 4.30%|
|Chemicals||New York, NY - 57,225||Marion, NC - 17.88%|
|Plastics & Rubber Products||Chicago, IL - 28,874||Mount Vernon, IL - 17.91%|
|Nonmetallic Mineral Products||Dallas, TX - 12,136||Owatonna, MN - 7.30%|
|Primary Metal||Chicago, IL - 26,422||Blytheville, AR - 6.05%|
|Fabricated Metal||Los Angeles, CA - 63,751||Auburn, IN - 15.37%|
|Machinery||Houston, TX - 56,014||Columbus, IN - 23.88%|
|Computer & Electronic Products||San Jose, CA - 108,007||San Jose, CA - 10.18%|
|Electrical Equip. & Appliances||Chicago, IL - 18,463||Fremont, OH - 10.94%|
|Transportation Equip.||Detroit, MI - 102,205||Greensburg, IN - 28.66%|
|Furniture||Los Angeles, CA - 18,000||Jasper, IN - 25.00%|
|Miscellaneous||Los Angeles, CA - 45,835||Warsaw, IN - 18.67%|