Deciding where to live and work can be a difficult decision to make. For manufacturers, immediate concerns may include good pay and reasonable living costs — but there is much more to choosing a great location to work in manufacturing. For example, industry professionals may also consider long-term aspects such as potential income growth in the coming years. What other aspects should those in the manufacturing industry consider when preparing to relocate for work?
Analyzing the data
What do analysts consider when ranking manufacturing locations? Researchers at SmartAsset, a financial company specializing in technology, analyzed data from the United States Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey and findings from the 2010 and 2015 County Business Patterns Surveys. With this information, they came up with six criteria to determine the best places to work in the manufacturing industry. They then gathered data from 483 metro areas, which included income growth between 2010-2015, job growth during the same period, the percentage of the workforce in manufacturing, and worker income after deducting housing costs.
Two key findings
There were two major findings from the SmartAsset researchers’ data analysis, the first of which may be surprising to many.
- Bigger metro areas did not make the top ten. In fact, Greenville, North Carolina, was one of only two areas on the list with populations of approximately 300,000 people. The others were smaller with 150,000 or less.
- Analysts looked at each area individually when it came to job growth or decline. There was no uniformity across the board.
So, just where are the best places to work in manufacturing?
- Talladega-Sylacauga, Alabama — Over 39% of the city’s workforce is in manufacturing in this Alabama metro area. In addition, the pay is above average when taking the area’s housing costs into consideration.
- Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, South Carolina — This locale made the number two spot on the list not only because of its nearly 38% growth in the manufacturing job force between 2010 and 2015 but also because of its almost 15% job income growth in only one year from 2014-2015.
- Ogden-Clearfield, Utah — Due to a job growth increase of 55% along with a 31% income increase from 2010 to 2015, this metro area ranked ninth on last year’s charts but is now in third place. The median income after deducting housing was also relatively high at $45,600.
- Rockford, Illinois — This city was a manufacturing hub at its peak. While not quite at the numbers of its past glory days, approximately 25% of those employed in Rockford work in manufacturing. Another advantage to working in this location is the state’s low 3.75% income tax rate and the city’s $54,000 average salary after housing costs.
- Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Kentucky — While this area has the lowest income after housing, $42,800, the manufacturing workforce has shown a sizeable increase over the past few years. This and the area’s 41% growth in manufacturing jobs from 2010-2015 are promising for long-term employment.
- Greenville, North Carolina — This city would be further up on the list if more of its population worked in manufacturing. Greenville employees in this field have seen a 27% income increase from 2010 to 2015 with a near-19% increase from 2014 to 2015 alone.
- Napa, California — Napa may come as a surprise to many for making the list, but approximately 19% of the workforce is in manufacturing and pay is one of the best among the top 10 after housing. The downside is California has very high income taxes.
- Amarillo, Texas — The median income growth in this area is the fastest overall for cities in the top 10 list. In Amarillo, manufacturing income increased nearly 39% from 2010-2015 along with 25% income growth from 2014-2015 alone.
- Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin — This area made the list because one-fourth of its workforce is in manufacturing — a number researchers expect to grow due to the 12% increase in manufacturing jobs from 2014-2015.
- Mount Vernon-Anacortes, Washington — When it comes to being above average on the metric score sheet this Washington metro area was present in all areas. The region received this ranking due to recent income increases, relatively high pay after housing, and no state income tax to cut into what manufacturers take home.
As you can see, the manufacturing arena is still thriving in many areas nationwide. With a positive job outlook, there are many great places to live and work for professionals in this industry.