Special Report

10 States Where Manufacturing Still Matters

7. Kentucky
> Manufacturing share of output: 18.3%
> Manufacturing output 2013: $33.6 billion (23rd highest)
> 2012 exports from manufacturing: $22.7 billion (23rd highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 8.3% (7th highest)

Kentucky’s manufacturing exports have been growing since the end of the recession. From 2009 through 2012 exports grew by nearly 15%. The manufacturing industry generated $33.6 billion last year, or 18.3% of state GDP. As of 2012, a relatively large proportion came from vehicle and auto parts manufacturing, which accounted for nearly 4% of total output, trailing only Michigan and Indiana. Kentucky is home to numerous large assembly plants run by companies such as Ford, General Motors, and Toyota. The three auto giants continue to invest billions in the state. Durable goods manufacturing contributed 0.34 percentage points to the state’s estimated 1.6% GDP growth last year, a higher proportion than all but five other states.

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6. Wisconsin
> Manufacturing share of output: 18.9%
> Manufacturing output 2013: $53.4 billion (13th highest)
> 2012 exports from manufacturing: $32.6 billion (13th highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 6.7% (23rd lowest)

More than 18% of Wisconsin’s employees worked in manufacturing in 2012, more than in all but one other state. Additionally Wisconsin was among the nation’s leaders in durable goods manufacturing, which accounted for 11% of the state’s total output last year. However, durable goods manufacturing was a drag on growth in 2013, lowering GDP growth by 0.14 percentage points. As of 2012, Wisconsin was among the largest producers of fabricated metal products, which accounted for 2.2% of the state’s output that year. Ball Corporation alone operates three facilities in Wisconsin that produce metal packaging for food, beverages, and household products. The state was also a leader in machinery manufacturing, which contributed nearly $8 billion to the state’s GDP in 2012, accounting for 2.9% of output. Wisconsin is home to mining machinery giant Joy Global’s headquarters as well as one of its major manufacturing facilities.

5. Michigan
> Manufacturing share of output: 19.0%
> Manufacturing output 2013: $82.3 billion (7th highest)
> 2012 exports from manufacturing: $63.1 billion (3rd highest)
> 2013 unemployment rate: 8.8% (5th highest)

Not only does Michigan’s manufacturing industry account for a large proportion of its total output, but it also exports huge volumes of its products. Michigan exported over $63 billion worth of manufacturing goods in 2012, trailing only Texas and California. Manufacturing exports rose at an annualized rate of 22% between 2009 and 2012, better than in any other state. Durable goods manufacturing accounted for nearly 0.6 percentage points of Michigan’s estimated 2.0% GDP growth last year, a greater contribution than in any state except for Oregon. More than half of all durable goods production came from motor vehicle and parts manufacturing in 2012, accounting for 7.6% of the state’s total output that year, the most nationwide. The manufacturing industry employed 17.2% of the state’s workforce in 2012, the third highest proportion in the country.