Since the Industrial Revolution, America’s manufacturing sector has been growing, adapting and changing. As a result, the demands of the manufacturing worker have also changed.

In some instances, manufacturing growth appears non-traditionally. WeWork spaces in Silicon Valley and Toolbox in Los Angeles place manufacturing components alongside marketers and programmers. But in smaller metro-areas, traditional manufacturing still goes strong.

Where manufacturing thrives in 2019

Kempler Industries set out to identify where manufacturing workers and the manufacturing sector as a whole is thriving. To do so, they analyzed 236 U.S. cities using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. The study considered four specific factors including the total number the manufacturing jobs, year-over-year job growth, the median income for the manufacturing industry and the median housing costs.

Top Ten Cities
  1. Wichita, Kansas
  2. Fort Wayne, Indiana
  3. Battle Creek, Michigan
  4. Toledo, Ohio
  5. Portland, Oregon
  6. Wausau, Wisconsin
  7. Reading, Pennsylvania
  8. Clarksville, Tennessee
  9. Boise, Idaho
  10. Janesville, Wisconsin

The top ten best cities have relatively small metro area populations. The only two cities that top the list with populations greater than 750,000 are Portland, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho. The rest represent smaller metro-areas with a robust manufacturing sector.

Study Factors

The most significant factor considered in this study is the number of manufacturing jobs in each metro area. The reason for weighting that so heavily is because it indicates a greater concentration of the manufacturing sector. Looking at that independently, Green Bay, Wisconsin has the greatest number of manufacturing jobs for its population size with more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs per 100,000 people.

Several larger cities did not make the top 50 list, despite reputations for being manufacturing hubs. Many of those cities dropped in the ranking if they hadn’t experienced tremendous industry growth. In other instances, the cost of living was too high given the average manufacturing income.

Have we adapted?

Manufacturing in 2019 may look completely different than it did 200 years ago. But the skills and training of the modern manufacturing worker have adapted. The cities where manufacturing now thrives tend to be smaller in size and oftentimes more rural. They represent communities where manufacturing positions dominate the overall workforce. As well as places where the income earned by skilled workers can be stretched farther with affordable housing and cost of living.