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County to County, Manufacturing in Minnesota

by Luke Greiner
May 2014

Manufacturing plays a large role in the economy of Central Minnesota. Even though the industry was surpassed by health care in terms of employment, manufacturing stands as the second largest industry. As recently as 2007 manufacturing was king in Central Minnesota and much of its regional dominance is still visible. Many of the manufacturers that were the backbone of the economy still exist and thrive today. Manufacturing is still the largest industry in Benton, McLeod, and Meeker counties.

Manufacturing is significant in Central Minnesota not only because of the sheer number of jobs in the industry but also because the wages paid in the manufacturing industry are considerably higher than the average wage for all industries. The average hourly wage for all industries in Central Minnesota is $17.60 per hour, totaling $36,608 annually. Manufacturing occupations pays on average $21.68 per hour, averaging an annual salary of $45,084. This means that the manufacturing sector pay is about 24 percent higher than the average for all industries.

This article will look at side-by-side comparisons of the manufacturing industry in each of the 13 counties that make up the Central Planning Area. Third quarter data will be used for all comparisons unless otherwise noted to maintain consistency and because it is the most recent quarter data available.

The County Line

Each county of the Central Planning Area has a unique manufacturing sector that contributes greatly to the successes and struggles coming out of the recession. In most counties a very clear sector of manufacturing defines the goods they produce. A diverse manufacturing sector can bolster the economy by allowing strategic partnerships to complement other producers and help source parts locally. The mix also allows for important diversification that can allow an economy to sustain itself during volatile market fluctuations.

Figure 1 illustrates the relative share of employment among the 13 counties. McLeod County easily has the highest percentage of workers dedicated to manufacturing. All but Pine and Mille Lacs have a higher percentage of manufacturing employment than Minnesota's 11.5 percent.

Figure 1: Share of Employment in Mnaufacutring


Benton County

Manufacturing in Benton County employs 3,818 workers, 22.4 percent of all jobs in the county. The majority of these jobs are in the Food Manufacturing industry that employs 646 workers. Miscellaneous Manufacturing, largely medical equipment and supplies, is also worth mentioning because that industry has increased rapidly since 2009. If historical growth continues it will outpace the Food Manufacturing industry by next year. While the Manufacturing industry is still lagging in growth, areas such as Miscellaneous Manufacturing have excelled.

Chisago County

2,262 (16 percent) of all jobs in Chisago County are in the Manufacturing industry. More than 24 percent of Manufacturing jobs are in Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing. Manufacturing has fared well in Chisago and substantially outpaced the growth for all industries. Manufacturing in the county has also gained a larger share of employment since the end of the recession with a 3.7 percent increase.

Isanti County

1,537 jobs (14.5 percent) in Isanti County's workforce are in the Manufacturing industry. The largest sector is Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing, employing more than a third of those in Manufacturing. The share of Manufacturing jobs increased since 2009 when 10.9 percent of jobs were in Manufacturing. The Fabricated Metals sector also gained a larger share of Manufacturing employees since 2009. Even though the growth for Fabricated Metals was a healthy amount since 2009, Manufacturing as a whole did extremely well, growing 38 percent.

Kanabec County

Kanabec County's workforce has 519 jobs (13.8 percent) in the Manufacturing sector. While the largest portions of them are employed in the Fabricated Metals Products industry, they represent less than 20 percent of all Manufacturing employees. This county has had negligible growth in general since the end of the recession. Manufacturing, however, has boomed, growing over 61 percent.

Kandiyohi County

3,309 (14.5 percent) of Kandiyohi jobs were in Manufacturing in 2013. It should be no surprise that Food Manufacturing is the largest sector by a large margin. Fully 61.4 percent of manufacturing employees are engaged in the Food sector. While the share of Manufacturing employment has increased about 1 percent, the share of those in Food Manufacturing has decreased about 3.5 percent. Manufacturing growth surpassed the growth of all industries combined by about 8 percent since 2009.

McLeod County

5,769 (33.1 percent) of all McLeod County jobs were in manufacturing. This has ticked up slightly from 2009 when 32.5 percent were employed in the industry. Food Manufacturing is the largest sub-sector with 22.7 percent of Manufacturing employees. The food plants have seen a healthy 38.1 percent gain since 2009, while the entire Manufacturing industry experienced a more modest 7.6 percent.

Meeker County

1,344 (19.6 percent) of the county's workforce is employed in Manufacturing with the largest portion in Machinery Manufacturing, roughly 27 percent. The third quarter of 2013 fluctuated significantly in Machinery Manufacturing, resulting in decrease in employment and share among Manufacturing sectors. Closer examination of the first and second quarters of 2013 also shows similar figures, indicating the third-quarter loss is not isolated.

Mille Lacs County

With 848 (8.9 percent) jobs in Manufacturing, Mille Lacs County has experienced large gains in the sector since the recession. Manufacturing in this county has outpaced the average growth by nearly 30 percent. The largest industry, Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing, gained an astonishing 172 percent. Much of that gain is attributed to regaining employees from a drop in employment that started in the third quarter of 2009. The previous two quarters of 2009 averaged 133 employees. If we were to start at the previous two quarters instead, we would see a more nearly normal growth of 55 percent.

Pine County

With 249 (3 percent) covered jobs provided by manufacturers, this county has the lowest share of Manufacturing employment in the central area. The employment is highly concentrated in Fabricated Metal production with 62.7 percent of all Manufacturing jobs in the sector. Average growth across all industries has been stagnant while Manufacturing grew at a respectable 13.2 percent.

Renville County

836 jobs in Renville County are in the Manufacturing sector. Although Food Manufacturing is the largest industry in the subsector with 45 percent of all the jobs, the share of employment for all Manufacturing as well as Food Manufacturing has decreased since 2009.

Sherburne County

3,262 (13 percent) of Sherburne County's workforce is employed by the Manufacturing industry. Fabricated Metal Products is the largest sector of Manufacturing, and 32.1 percent of Manufacturing employees work in the industry. Manufacturing has outpaced the growth of all industries, but the Fabricated Metals Product industry has experienced a much less robust growth period.

Stearns County

The largest economy in the central region is much more diverse, with a modest 14.1 percent of all jobs in Manufacturing (11,524). The largest subsector is Food Manufacturing with almost one of every five Manufacturing jobs. The entire Manufacturing industry is very diverse with many subsectors employing similar amounts. The second largest, Fabricated Metals Products, employs more than 1,700, and the next three largest all employ more than 1,100. Only one, Printing and Related Support activity, has experienced negative growth since 2009.

Wright County

Wright County's labor force has 13.7 percent (5,202) in the Manufacturing business. Fabricated Metal Production is the largest area with 23.9 percent of Manufacturing jobs in the subsector. The share of Manufacturing employment has increased slightly since 2009, from 11.1 percent to 13.7 percent. Growth in this county has been exceptional for Manufacturing with a gain of 33.6 percent since 2009.

Table 1: Manufacturing Employment in Central Minnesota Planning Area

County

Industry

Percent Change 2009-2013

2013 Qtr. 3

2012 Qtr. 3

2011 Qtr. 3

2010 Qtr. 3

2009 Qtr. 3

Benton

Total, All Industries

4.7%

17,068

16,391

16,224

16,152

16,308

Manufacturing

-14.2%

3,818

3,871

4,107

4,112

4,449

Food Manufacturing

-8.0%

646

626

651

712

702

Miscellaneous Manufacturing

41.0%

602

657

517

486

427

Chisago

Total, All Industries

3.7%

14,171

14,022

13,802

13,679

13,663

Manufacturing

34.2%

2,262

2,191

1,985

1,872

1,686

Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing

16.9%

554

560

535

517

474

Isanti

Total, All Industries

3.9%

10,610

10,141

10,190

10,065

10,211

Manufacturing

38.0%

1,537

1,455

1,238

1,155

1,114

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

19.1%

529

536

495

451

444

Kanabec

Total, All Industries

2.9%

3,768

3,744

3,677

3,671

3,663

Manufacturing

61.7%

519

499

378

345

321

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

-2.8%

103

119

111

90

106

Kandiyohi

Total, All Industries

2.5%

22,891

22,801

22,755

22,369

22,326

Manufacturing

10.6%

3,309

3,217

3,151

2,998

2,992

Food Manufacturing

4.7%

2,033

1,973

1,957

1,888

1,941

McLeod

Total, All Industries

5.6%

17,418

16,875

17,163

16,613

16,488

Manufacturing

7.6%

5,769

5,304

5,426

5,466

5,363

Food Manufacturing

38.1%

1,308

1,045

957

966

947

Meeker

Total, All Industries

4.5%

6,847

6,652

6,646

6,480

6,552

Manufacturing

12.8%

1,344

1,300

1,355

1,286

1,192

Machinery Manufacturing

-3.4%

369

429

415

415

382

Mille Lacs

Total, All Industries

5.5%

9,477

9,465

9,146

8,783

8,979

Manufacturing

33.5%

848

705

601

576

635

Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing

172.4%

207

166

39

28

76

Pine

Total, All Industries

0.4%

8,225

8,162

8,182

8,261

8,191

Manufacturing

13.2%

249

215

197

189

220

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

25.8%

156

150

158

154

124

Renville

Total, All Industries

0.2%

5,704

5,683

5,522

5,726

5,692

Manufacturing

-2.1%

836

928

920

921

854

Food Manufacturing

-10.0%

376

469

450

401

418

Sherburne

Total, All Industries

12.7%

25,103

23,140

22,799

22,327

22,268

Manufacturing

15.1%

3,262

3,014

2,938

2,926

2,833

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

6.6%

1,048

993

1,011

1,080

983

Stearns

Total, All Industries

5.7%

81,626

81,456

79,302

77,603

77,213

Manufacturing

5.2%

11,524

11,643

11,260

10,755

10,954

Food Manufacturing

0.4%

2,216

2,130

2,143

2,170

2,207

Printing and Related Support Activities

-29.3%

1,076

1,199

1,375

1,355

1,522

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing

9.4%

1,163

1,071

1,059

1,023

1,063

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

19.8%

1,677

1,882

1,681

1,449

1,400

Transportation Equipment Manufacturing

31.7%

1,453

1,472

1,298

1,157

1,103

Wright

Total, All Industries

8.3%

37,890

37,295

36,200

35,460

34,988

Manufacturing

33.6%

5,202

5,037

4,409

4,183

3,895

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

22.2%

1,245

1,226

1,164

1,076

1,019



Building the Future

The future of Manufacturing is far from its demise often discussed in the media. Although the projected growth is 6.7 percent less than the projected growth for all industries, it is still projected to grow. Table 2 highlights the growth of Manufacturing in Central Minnesota's future. Leading future net gains of more than 1,400 jobs, Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing is substantial and will create many opportunities for the workers who have the required skillset. With a projected net gain of more than 4,000 jobs, the central region will grow faster than Manufacturing across the entire state by 6.7 percent. The Northwest is the only region with a higher projected growth at 16.6 percent.

Table 2: Central Minnesota Employment Projections

Industry

2010

2020

2010-2020
Percent
Change

2010-2020
Numeric
Change

Manufacturing

35,603

39,725

11.6%

4,122

Food Manufacturing

7,208

7,640

6.0%

432

Printing and Related Support Activities

1,987

2,060

3.7%

73

Chemical Manufacturing

270

302

11.9%

32

Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing

2,293

2,790

21.7%

497

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing

1,931

2,306

19.4%

375

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

5,842

7,258

24.2%

1,416

Machinery Manufacturing

2,732

3,127

14.5%

395

Transportation Equipment Manufacturing

1,884

2,221

17.9%

337

Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing

1,875

2,270

21.1%

395

Miscellaneous Manufacturing

1,289

1,380

7.1%

91

Source: DEED. 2010-2020 Employment Projections



Rising labor costs in Asian countries, particularly China, coupled with problematic logistics and unexpected changes in government policies should deter mass relocations of manufacturers. This will also nurture a more competitive environment for manufacturers located in Central Minnesota.

Tightening labor markets will be a significant factor for expansions and sustainable manufacturing density in the region moving forward. As technology molds the way goods are produced, it will also affect the training programs required to supply an adequate labor pool. Education programs, on-the-job training, and apprenticeships are a major driving force that can either restrict or promote expansion of manufacturing in the area. Those being trained today will need specialized skills to produce the goods of tomorrow.

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