Ten States Where Manufacturing Matters

 5. Wisconsin
> Manufacturing share of output: 19.1%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $49.98 billion (12th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 6.9%

Wisconsin led the nation in paper manufacturing in 2011, with nearly $4 billion in output, which was 1.5% of the state’s total GDP and the third-greatest portion of total output. In 2012, Wisconsin was a large producer of durable goods, which accounted for 11.3% of its GDP, up from 10.7% the previous year, holding on to its fourth place position. In spite of Wisconsin’s high output in the paper industry, the state’s Chamber of Commerce has expressed concerns regarding the implementation of government regulations that may ghurt current and future job prospects. Officials in Wisconsin claim the new Boiler MACT regulations, for example, will have a negative economic impact on pulp and paper industry jobs in the state.

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4. North Carolina
> Manufacturing share of output: 19.4%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $88.25 billion (4th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 9.5%

Last year, North Carolina was the fourth-largest manufacturing economy in the country, losing the third-place position to Illinois. In 2011, of the state’s $84 billion manufacturing output, nearly $24 billion alone came from chemical manufacturing. Roughly 5.5% of the state’s GDP arose from chemical manufacturing alone. Another close to $20 billion came from the food, beverage and tobacco product industry, more than any state but California. North Carolina’s tobacco economy is one of the second-largest in the country, and R.J. Reynolds, the second-largest tobacco company by sales in the U.S., is based in the state.

3. Louisiana
> Manufacturing share of output: 22.6%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $55.10 billion (11th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 6.4%

None of the nation’s manufacturing leaders produced less output from durable goods manufacturing than Louisiana, at $7.7 billion. Similarly, in 2011, the state produced just $7.1 billion in manufactured durable goods. Louisiana was among the nation’s largest manufacturers of chemicals, as well as petroleum and coal products, that year, helping the state’s totals. As of 2011, more than 10% of the state’s GDP came from petroleum and coal manufacturing, by far the highest percentage in the nation. The state remains one of the nation’s leading oil refiners. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) is the only port in the United States capable of offloading deep draft tankers.”

2. Oregon
> Manufacturing share of output: 27.8%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $55.16 billion (10th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 8.7%

Oregon manufactured nearly $38 billion worth of computer and electronic products in 2011, up from the year before, and second in the nation. That output is behind California, but its percentage of total GDP was 20%, surpassing by far second place Idaho, where computer and electronic manufacturing accounts for only about 5.8% of total output as of 2011. Recent outside investments in the state reinforce the tech-heavy industries in Oregon. In the first half of this year, for example, AT&T invested nearly $80 million in its Oregon network to improve performance for Oregon residents, according to the Portland Business Journal.

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1. Indiana
> Manufacturing share of output: 28.2%
> Manufacturing output 2012: $84.15 billion (6th highest)
> 2012 Unemployment rate: 8.4%

Indiana has added manufacturing jobs at one of the fastest rates in the nation over the past several years, with year-over-year growth in manufacturing at or above 3.7% at the end of each of the past three years. Some of this growth came from companies like Honda expanding their factories and adding thousands of jobs, which made headlines in 2011. Developments like these are critical for the economy of the state, which depends on manufacturing more than anywhere else in the nation. In 2012, Indiana had just the nation’s 16th largest economy, while its output from manufacturing exceeded all but a handful of states. In 2010 and 2011, Indiana was one of the leading states in total output from both motor vehicle-related and chemicals manufacturing. Manufacturing of chemical products accounted for 7% of the state’s GDP in 2011, at least partly due to the presence of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, which has vendors throughout the state.