10. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.
> Average manufacturing wage: $75,225
> Average wage: $47,015 (34th highest)
> Industry focus: computers and electronics, aerospace
> Share of total jobs in manufacturing: 10.4% (22nd highest)
> Dollars above expected earnings: n/a
The Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area on the eastern coast of Florida is one of the most high-tech focused large cities in the U.S. More than 10% of the area’s roughly 200,000 jobs are in manufacturing. Close to three-quarters of those jobs are classified as high-tech positions, a higher percentage than any major metro outside of Silicon Valley. The Palm Bay area specializes in information technology positions, with roughly 60% of all manufacturing jobs in computers and electronics.
9. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Tex.
> Average manufacturing wage: $75,288
> Average wage: $57,406 (8th highest)
> Industry focus: fabricated metals, machinery, chemicals
> Share of total jobs in manufacturing: 8.5% (45th highest)
> Dollars above expected earnings: $14,239 (11th highest)
The Houston metropolitan area is by far the largest in the country with high-paying manufacturing jobs. Houston’s manufacturing industry grew nearly 6% between the beginning of 2010 and the end of 2011, more than double the nationwide increase. Houston specializes in two major manufacturing industries: chemicals and machinery. It is the only region on this list in which fabricated metals represents a substantial part of the region’s total manufacturing jobs. Although information technology — generally the source of high-paying jobs — is not big in the Houston area, workers in manufacturing still earn $75,288, or more than $14,000 above their expected wages.
8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-Md.-W.V.
> Average manufacturing wage: $77,530
> Average wage: $68,134 (4th highest)
> Industry focus: computers and electronics, printing and related support
> Share of total jobs in manufacturing: 1.7% (the lowest)
> Dollars above expected earnings: $21,530 (6th highest)
Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. capital region represent just 1.7% of of total employment — the lowest percentage of the 100 largest metropolitan regions. According to Brookings, there is no single particular area of specialty, but computers and electronics make up roughly one in four of the 52,500 production jobs, followed by printing and related support at 13.4%. Across all sectors, earnings are quite high in the area. Average annual wages are $68,134, the fourth-highest average salary in the country. Similarly, manufacturing jobs in the region pay much more than expected. What little manufacturing there is in the region declined by 5.4% between the beginning of 2010 and the end of 2011, the third biggest decline among the country’s largest metro regions.
7. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif.
> Average manufacturing wage: $79,396
> Average wage: $54,435 (13th highest)
> Industry focus: computers and electronics
> Share of total jobs in manufacturing: 6.8% (37th lowest)
> Dollars above expected earnings: $20,246 (8th highest)
Manufacturing accounts for just 6.8% of jobs in the San Diego metro region, but those workers are paid handsomely, making an average of nearly $80,000 each year. Of the 92,400 manufacturing jobs, information technology is the dominant industry, with 27.9% of all production jobs in computers and electronics. The number of manufacturing jobs in the area has fallen 23.4% since 2000, less than the U.S. decline of 33.2%.
6. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H.
> Average manufacturing wage: $82,415
> Average wage: $63,223 (6th highest)
> Industry focus: computers and electronics, fabricated metals, food
> Share of total jobs in manufacturing: 7.4% (47th lowest)
> Dollars above expected earnings: $22,429 (5th highest)
Manufacturing wages in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan region average $82,415, nearly $20,000 more than the average job in the region. MIT and the dozens other universities in the Boston area help fuel the its substantial information technology industry. Approximately 40% of all manufacturing jobs in the region are classified by Brookings as “very high-tech.” The average earnings for jobs in this category are more than $110,000 annually. Computers and electronics make up roughly 30% of production jobs in the area, with fabricated metals and food accounting for approximately 10% each.