Detroit had second-highest gain in manufacturing jobs in last 2 years, report finds

Posted on May 8, 2012

Of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., metro Detroit had the second-largest percentage gain in manufacturing jobs over the last two years, according to a report today from the Brookings Institution.

From the first quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of manufacturing jobs in the Detroit area increased by 12.1%, compared with the national average of 2.7%. Only Charleston, S.C., fared better, with a 14.4% gain.

The Brookings study analyzed manufacturing industries, jobs and wages across all U.S. metro areas. It found that despite the country’s massive loss of manufacturing jobs, “more metropolitan areas depend on manufacturing as a part of their economic base today than three decades ago.”

The report urges economic development officials to craft pro-manufacturing strategies and policies that are tailored to each region’s advantages and drawbacks. The study’s authors found that the majority of metro areas specialize in specific manufacturing industries based on the skills of their workforce, natural resources and other factors.

“Efforts to create a cluster of industries without some pre-existing heritage in the area are likely to fail,” the report warned.

The study contained a number of other key findings:

• Manufacturing jobs have been shifting away from the South and toward the Midwest, but it’s unclear whether this is a long-term development or a temporary one.

• Among the 100 biggest metro areas, metro Detroit had the sixth-largest number of manufacturing jobs, with 187,821 of these positions in 2010. A little more than 1 out of every 10 jobs in metro Detroit is in manufacturing.

• The average manufacturing wage in metro Detroit is $67,804, putting it in the No. 25 spot among the top 100 metro areas nationwide. The average wage for all jobs in metro Detroit is $50,266.

• The top three manufacturing industries in metro Detroit are motor vehicles and parts, fabricated metals and machinery.

• Metro Detroit lost 52% of its manufacturing jobs from 2000-10 compared with an average loss of 33.2% nationwide.

Katherine Yung, Detroit Free Press