Ten States Where Manufacturing Matters

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10. Alabama
> Manufacturing share of output: 16.3%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $30 billion (22nd highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 7.3%

More than 16% of Alabama’s $183 billion worth of total output in 2012 came from manufacturing industries, about $30 billion. Last year, much of this output — $16.6 billion worth — came from the manufacturing of durable goods, which in 2012 accounted for 9.1% of total GDP, the ninth highest percentage in the country. This includes the manufacturing of wood products, nonmetallic mineral products and so forth. News reports suggest a strong tradition of manufacturing in Alabama. Mobile County, for example, will now be the site of Airbus’s new A320 jetliner final assembly line, which will likely be the company’s first U.S.-based production facility. The project, which is scheduled to begin in 2015, is expected to create thousands of jobs, a welcome prospect in the wake of declining manufacturing industries this past decade.

Also Read: States Where It Is Hardest To Find Full-Time Work

9. Michigan
> Manufacturing share of output: 16.5%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $66.2 billion (8th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 9.1%

Each of the “Big Three” U.S. auto manufacturers — Chrysler, Ford and General Motors — is based in Michigan, and car sales are trending upward. This likely will be critical for the state: motor vehicle manufacturing accounted for nearly 5% of the state’s total GDP in 2011, far more than any other state. Michigan also led the nation with $18.8 billion in motor vehicle manufacturing output in 2011. The resurgence in the auto industry has not only boosted output, but also led to job growth. Manufacturing employment in Michigan rose 7.9% between the ends of 2010 and 2011, leading all states, and then by an additional 3.9% between the ends of 2011 and 2012, also among the most in the nation. But this did little to help Detroit avoid a bankruptcy filing, since extremely few auto manufacturing jobs exist within the city limits.

8. Iowa
> Manufacturing share of output: 16.7%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $25.4 billion (25th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 5.2%

Iowa had the 30th largest state economy in the nation last year. However, relative to its GDP, Iowa is still one of the nation’s largest manufacturers. This is especially the case for non-durable goods, which accounted for 8.4% of the state’s total output in 2012, the fifth-highest percentage in the nation. In 2011, when non-durable goods manufacturing accounted for 8.3% of Iowa’s output, nearly half of this contribution came from food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing. At 4% of state GDP, this was more than any other state except North Carolina. Despite low crop yields due to drought, Iowa was the leading producer of both corn and soybeans in 2012, according to the USDA.

7. Ohio
> Manufacturing share of output: 17.1%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $87.2 billion (5th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 7.2%

Ohio is a major manufacturer of a range of products. In 2011, it was one of the largest manufacturers of both primary and fabricated metals products, which together accounted for about 3% of the state’s output that year. The state was also the nation’s leader in producing plastics and rubber products, which accounted for more than $5.3 billion in output in 2011, or 1.1% of Ohio’s total output. Likely contributing to Ohio’s high output of manufactured rubber products, the state is home to Goodyear Tire & Rubber, a Fortune 500 company. At the end of 2012, Ohio was one of the top states for manufacturing employment, with roughly 658,000 jobs, trailing only far-larger California and Texas.

6. Kentucky
> Manufacturing share of output: 17.1%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $29.75 billion (23rd highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 8.2%

In 2011, Kentucky manufactured nearly $4 billion worth of motor vehicles, bodies, trailers and parts, the fifth-largest output in the nation. As of 2011, this manufacturing industry was worth 2.4% of Kentucky’s GDP, the third-largest percentage in the country . In 2011, electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing had an output of only about $1.3 billion the 15th highest, but this may be expected to improve. Louisville is home to the GE Appliance Park, where the company has recently built two new assembly lines. The assembly lines, which cost more than $100 million, will produce high-efficiency washing machines and will create about 200 jobs, in addition to the thousands of jobs GE has created in the region over the past few years with its opening of several other factories.