NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Manufacturing Is Making a Comeback

May 10, 2011

Manufacturing has grown consistently over the past 21 months, and now, for the first time in years, manufacturing regions are beginning to move up on New Geography's list of best cities for jobs, says Joel Kotkin, executive editor of and a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University.

  • The fastest-growing industrial areas include four long-suffering Rust Belt cities: Anderson, Ind. (No. 4), Youngstown, Ohio (No. 5), Lansing, Mich. (No. 9) and Elkhart-Goshen, Ind. (No. 10).        
  • The growth in these and other industrial areas influenced, often dramatically, their overall job rankings.        
  • Elkhart, for example, rose 137 places on New Geography's best cities for jobs list, and Lansing moved up 155.

Industrial growth also affected some of the largest metros, whose economies in other areas, such as business services, often depend on customers from the industrial sector.

Take the case of Milwaukee:        

  • The city rode a nearly 3 percent boost in industrial employment to increase its ranking among the best large metros for jobs: It rose from a near-bottom No. 49 (out of 65) to a healthy No. 23.        
  • As manufacturing employment surged, others sectors, notably business services, warehousing and hospitality, showed solid increases after years of slow or even negative growth.

Of course, not all the big gainers in the industrial sphere are located in Great Lakes.  The movement of manufacturing to other parts of the country, particularly to Texas and the Southeast means a better industrial climate helps those regions as well, says Kotkin.

Source: Joel Kotkin, "Manufacturing Stages a Comeback," Forbes, May 9, 2011.

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