Last Friday, President Obama pointed to the improving labor market as a sign the economy is recovering. According to the jobs report released last week, companies hired more than 200,000 workers for the third consecutive month in February. The president, speaking to workers at a Rolls-Royce aircraft parts plant in Virginia, touted the 31,000 new manufacturing jobs, and suggested that manufacturing was fueling the recovery.
Indeed, manufacturing and exports appear to have been driving growth for some time, albeit slowly. According to a new Brookings report, U.S. exports, which represent 10.7% of gross domestic product, grew 11% in 2010, the fastest growth since 1997. The bulk of this growth, 75%, came from manufacturing.
In order to illustrate how export and manufacturing are fueling the economy, Brookings looked at exports in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in 2009 and 2010. Based on the Brookings report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 cities where manufacturing fueled export growth the most.
Most of the cities where manufacturing is booming were once major industrial centers. Cities like Cleveland and Milwaukee were manufacturing hubs as early as the mid 1800s. In the late 1970s, however, manufacturing began declining and today represents only a fraction of GDP in these areas. Other industries have since taken larger shares of GDP and employment. For example, in Toledo, which was once a leader in auto manufacturing, the health care industry is now the city’s biggest employer. Today, manufacturing only accounts for 13% of the labor force in the metropolitan region.
For this reason, the impact manufacturing has had on these cities can be hard to detect. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, while exports have grown substantially in these regions, total GDP has not. Between 2009 and 2010, GDP grew at or below the national rate of 2.5% in six of the 10 cities.
Even though GDP growth was unimpressive in several of these cities, manufacturing and export growth may have been the difference between growing at a modest rate and not growing at all. Export growth was responsible for at least 61% of GDP growth in these cities. In Milwaukee, exports offset losses in other sectors, growing by $1.1 billion between 2009 and 2010, while GDP only grew by $944 million. Among the cities where manufacturing was fueling export growth most, manufacturing accounted for at least 88% of this growth.
It is clear these cities have some ways go before manufacturing’s impact is readily seen. Median income in these areas remains among the lowest in the country. Six of the 10 metropolitan areas are in the bottom third among major cities for income. Toledo, for example, has a median household income of just $43,260, the 11th lowest in the country. In many of these cities, median income fell even as manufacturing jobs increased. In fact, only one city of the 10 showed an increase in income. Meanwhile, the declines in income in the other cities were among the worst in the country.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the 100 largest metropolitan areas from Brookings’ report “Export Nation: 2012, How Metropolitan Areas Are Driving National Growth.” Median household income data are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Also included from the Brookings report are GDP and GDP growth by region, exports and export growth by region, and export production jobs and export production growth by region.
These are the 10 cities where manufacturing is booming.
10. Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, S.C.
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 88.6%
> GDP (2010): $25.8 billion (18th smallest)
> Exports share of GDP: 11.4% (29th highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): +15.5% (8th highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +2.4%
Among the largest private employers in the Charleston metropolitan area are aircraft manufacturer Boeing South Carolina and auto parts manufacturer Robert Bosch. According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Charleston is the fastest growing mid-size metropolitan area for aircraft manufacturing in the U.S. From 2000 to 2009, the area’s skilled manufacturing workforce grew by more than 5%, while nationally it fell by 28%. In 2010, the region had the eighth-largest growth rate of exports in the country compared to 2009, at 15.5%. It also added 530 export production jobs over that period.
9. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 88.7%
> GDP (2010): $98.0 billion (27th largest)
> Exports share of GDP: 12.4% (21st highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): +11.9% (33rd highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +1.7%
Since the U.S. became one of the leading manufacturers in the world, Cleveland has been at the center of national industrial production. Over the past few decades, however, the city and its surrounding area have been in a state of decline, losing a major share of its businesses and jobs. Recently, things have begun to turn around. Current unemployment rate in the area is just 7%, well below the national average. Between 2009 and 2010, 1,120 export production jobs were added in the metropolitan area. Over this period, exports increased 11.9%, with growth in manufacturing contributing to 88.7% of this expansion. Exports contributed to 77% of the region’s increase in GDP, as well. The city’s strong chemical industry has been the biggest part of this growth.
8. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 88.8%
> GDP (2010): $18.0 billion (2nd lowest)
> Exports share of GDP: 13.7% (17th highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): +13.2% (19th highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +1.4%
Ogden-Clearfield, the second-largest metropolitan area in Utah, is home to a number of major manufacturers. The North American division of automotive safety leader Autoliv (NYSE: ALV) is headquartered there and employs a large number of residents. Parker Hannafin (NYSE: PH) manufactures aircraft hydraulic and control systems and employs 500 people in Ogden. According to the Milken Institute, the metropolitan area is the 15th best in the country for sustaining jobs and economic growth. Especially impressive is the region’s 3.74% job growth from June 2010 to July 2011 — the second-highest rate in the country. From 2009 to 2010, exports were solely responsible for the region’s increase in GDP, making up for decreases in many other sectors.
7. Columbia, S.C.
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 89.0%
> GDP (2010): $32.1 billion (30th lowest)
> Exports share of GDP: 8.5% (31st lowest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): +13.0% (22nd highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +1.3%
Exports in the Columbia, S.C., metro region grew 13% in 2010 compared to 2009, the 22nd-largest increase in the country. The biggest source of this growth was the transportation equipment industry. However, the city’s economy as a whole has improved only marginally. During that time, GDP grew just 1.3%, the 27th-smallest increase among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country. Some 74% of this growth was driven by exports. Between 2009 and 2010, median income declined 3.2%, among the biggest decreases in the country. It was also one of the few metro regions to experience negative job growth between June 2010 and June 2011.
6. Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 89.5%
> GDP (2010): $55.3 billion (49th highest)
> Exports share of GDP: 11.5% (26th highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): 11.5% (39th highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +2.8%
During the late 19th century, industries like chewing tobacco, steam engines, farm equipment and furniture, as well as whiskey and plumbing products drove the greater Louisville region’s growth as a manufacturing center, according the Greater Louisville Metro Chamber of Commerce. Today, machinery is the largest manufacturing sector. Two of the largest employers in the Greater Louisville region are GE Appliance and Ford Motor (NYSE: F). From 2009 to 2010, 89.5% of export growth in the metropolitan area was driven by manufacturing. Over that period, exports production created 980 new jobs.
5. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 90.2%
> GDP (2010): $35.4 billion (35th lowest)
> Exports share of GDP: 15.3% (8th highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): 16.1% (4th highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +3.6%
Exports growth in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metropolitan area from 2009 to 2010 was 16.1%, one of the highest rates in the country. Exports make up a significant portion of the region’s GDP, which exceeded $35 billion in 2010. Among the area’s largest employers are a number of manufacturers that deal at least partially in transportation equipment, including Gentex (NASDAQ: GNTX), Magna International (NYSE: MGA), and Lacks Enterprises. Though the area’s GDP is not especially large, growth from 2009 to 2010 was above average.
4. Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, S.C.
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 91.5%
> GDP (2010): $26.0 billion (19th lowest)
> Exports share of GDP: 14.9% (11th highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): 15.0% (11th highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +2.6%
The economic growth of the Greenville metropolitan area is largely being driven by manufacturing, accounting for 91.5% of export growth from 2009 to 2010. Export growth in the region is among the greatest in the country, as is the percentage of exports attributed to GDP. The largest manufacturing employers in the region are Michelin North America, BMW Manufacturing Corp, and textile and R&D company Milliken & Company. From 2009 to 2010, the metropolitan area added 560 jobs in export production.
3. Toledo, Ohio
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 91.6%
> GDP (2010): $27.7 billion (23rd lowest)
> Exports share of GDP: 15.0% (10th highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): 17.0% (3rd highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +2.8%
Like its neighbor, Cleveland, Toledo is one of America’s aging industrial centers that has fallen on hard times. Auto manufacturing was once the driving force behind the city’s economy, but manufacturing has long been on the decline. Today, health care has taken the spot of manufacturing as the region’s chief industry. Exports production added 810 jobs to the region between 2009 and 2010, demonstrating that manufacturing still contributes to the local economy. Exports also accounted for 81% of the area’s 2.8% increase in GDP over that period.
2. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 92.5%
> GDP (2010): $19.5 billion (7th lowest)
> Exports share of GDP: 15.0% (9th highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): 30.4% (the highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +3.8%
The exports growth rate for the Youngstown metropolitan from 2009 to 2010 is the largest in the country, at 30.4%. This is nearly twice the rate of the metro area with the second-largest growth rate. In addition to this, exports make up a particularly large share of Youngstown’s GDP. According to the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, 13% of all jobs in the metropolitan area are in the manufacturing industry. In the decade following 2001, however, the sector lost 19,500 jobs — the most in the region. From 2009 to 2010, the Youngstown area’s GDP grew 3.8%, which is significantly more than the national increase.
1. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.
> Manufacturing contribution to export growth: 93.3%
> GDP (2010): $75.8 billion (38th highest)
> Exports share of GDP: 12.3% (22nd highest)
> Exports growth rate (2009 – 2010): 13.5% (16th highest)
> Change in GDP (2009 – 2010): +1.3%
Exports from the Milwaukee metropolitan statistical area increased 13.5% from 2009 to 2010 — among the highest rates in the country. Manufacturing accounted for 93.5% of this growth — the greatest amount. From June 2010 to June 2011, the region was one of the nation’s leaders in job growth, with a growth rate of 2.89%, according to the Milken Institute, thanks primarily to its manufacturing sector. According to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, 14% of occupations in the region are manufacturing jobs — the second-highest rate in the country. The rate for the nation is just 8.9%. However, from 2009 to 2010, Milwaukee’s GDP only increased 1.3%, compared to the national growth rate of 2.5%.
Michael B. Sauter, Charles B. Stockdale, Ashley C. Allen