Feb 27, 2017
By Craig M. Douglas and Joe Martin, Houston Business Journal
The manufacturing industry made headlines recently following a Feb. 23 meeting between President Donald Trump and some of the country’s largest manufacturing CEOs.
Whether any policy changes will emerge from the discussion remains to be seen, but the best strategy — in terms of fostering growth throughout the U.S. manufacturing sector — may be simply to do nothing. That’s because U.S. manufacturing jobs have been on the increase for the better part of five years.
Manufacturing jobs declined by around 1 million positions throughout the nation’s 107 largest metros between 2006 and 2016, with some areas losing more than a quarter of their workforces. Meanwhile, between 2011 and 2016, those same 107 areas saw a 4 percent increase in manufacturing hiring. The uptick equated to a net increase of roughly 280,000 jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Houston saw a slightly different trajectory. Between 2006 and 2016, the Houston area added 5,600 manufacturing jobs, however, between 2011 and 2016 Houston saw a net decrease of 900 jobs as the energy industry went through a downturn, according to the data. Two-thirds of Houston’s manufacturing jobs are related to durable goods, or items with a useful life of three or more years, including oil field equipment, steel and computers, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.
And while Houston saw a slight decrease between 2011 and 2016 — an atypical trend for the 107 cities surveyed — the GHP says the manufacturing sector is expected to increase in 2017.
The gains reported between 2011 and 2016 were spread throughout the country. Top among all metros was Louisville, Kentucky, where makers of everything from cars to guns to bourbon boosted hiring by 27.2 percent. Further south in Nashville, Tennessee, hiring spiked 27 percent, while in the Daytona Beach area of Florida it increased by 25.3 percent.
In terms of actual jobs created, Detroit reported the biggest gains with some 37,500 new manufacturing jobs added between 2011 and 2016. Nearby, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ranked second, with a net of 21,000 new jobs, while Nashville was third at 18,300, according to the BLS data.
The nation’s three-largest cities ranked by total manufacturing jobs — Los Angeles, Chicago and New York — all lost jobs during the same five-year span and were down a combined 21,000 manufacturing jobs since 2006.
Attendees at Trump’s manufacturers summit Feb. 23 included a slate of CEOs from a cross section of the U.S. economy. Among them: Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric (NYSE: GE); Marillyn Hewson from Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT); Andrew Liveris from Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW); Mark Fields of Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F); Inge Thulin from 3M (NYSE: MMM); and Alex Gorsky from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).