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Manufacturing Strength: Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing in the Twin Cities

by Tim O'Neill
June 2015

Vital Sector

Manufacturing is integral to the Twin Cities' economy. With 4,072 establishments supplying over 165,300 jobs, manufacturing is the metro's second largest employing industry sector. Manufacturing takes the top spot for total annual compensation, however, despite having 80,000 less jobs than healthcare and social assistance. For the average manufacturing worker annual wages equal $68,850. This is 23 percent higher than the annual wage for all industries.

This article will focus on fabricated metal product manufacturing, one of the most distinguishing manufacturing subsectors in the Twin Cities.

From its North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) definition, fabricated metal product manufacturing industries transform manufactured metal shapes into intermediate or end products. Important processes within this sector include forging, stamping, bending, forming, and machining to shape individual pieces of metal, and welding or assembling to join separate parts together. This industry can be further broken down into the following subsectors: forging and stamping; cutlery and hand-tool manufacturing; architectural and structural metals manufacturing; boiler, tank, and shipping container manufacturing; hardware manufacturing; spring and wire product manufacturing; machine shops; coating, engraving, heat treating, and allied activities; and other fabricated metal product manufacturing.

As of 2014 there were 843 fabricated metal product manufacturing establishments in the Twin Cities, far more than any other Manufacturing subsector. With 24,197 covered jobs, this subsector accounts for over one in seven manufacturing jobs, trailing only computer and electronic product manufacturing (see Table 1).

Table 1: Manufacturing Employment in the Twin Cities, Annual 2014
Industry Number of Firms Number of Jobs Percent of Total Employment Annual Payroll Average Annual Wage
Total, All Industries 78,354 1,641,547 100.0% $95,452,041,798 $55,900
Manufacturing 4,072 165,322 10.1% $11,839,768,016 $68,850
Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing 319 35,176 21.3% $3,447,550,562 $94,200
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 843 24,197 14.6% $1,460,389,796 $58,000
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 577 17,312 10.5% $1,290,726,854 $71,750
Machinery Manufacturing 381 17,012 10.3% $1,282,608,594 $72,500
Printing and Related Support Activities 448 14,813 9.0% $880,352,659 $57,150
Food Manufacturing 247 11,557 7.0% $534,963,937 $44,500
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing 199 8,864 5.4% $505,614,472 $54,850
Chemical Manufacturing 154 6,893 4.2% $559,094,116 $78,000
Paper Manufacturing 82 4,714 2.9% $304,628,383 $62,100
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing 79 4,612 2.8% $330,612,762 $68,950
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing 236 4,242 2.6% $234,858,749 $53,200
Wood Product Manufacturing 109 3,899 2.4% $216,929,843 $53,600
Primary Metal Manufacturing 43 3,491 2.1% $210,642,531 $58,000
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing 16 2,260 1.4% $245,523,597 $104,850
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing 87 1,978 1.2% $126,104,946 $61,100
Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing 34 1,591 1.0% $82,468,549 $50,000
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing 75 1,398 0.8% $78,404,137 $53,850
Textile Product Mills 73 590 0.4% $19,241,242 $31,350
Apparel Manufacturing 54 324 0.2% $11,544,045 $34,150
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing 6 208 0.1% $9,051,145 $41,800
Textile Mills 11 187 0.1% $8,457,097 $43,550
Source: DEED Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Program

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing has a location quotient of 1.33 in the Twin Cities and accounts for 1.7 percent of the metro area's total employment. Anoka County has the greatest concentration with a location quotient of 6.48. With over 8,400 such manufacturing jobs, this industry accounts for 8 percent of the county's total employment. Location quotients above 1.20 are considered significant and imply the exporting of products or services.

A Sector Hit Hard

Unfortunately, manufacturing has been losing jobs in the Twin Cities, in no small part caused by the recent Great Recession. In steady decline since 2000, manufacturing was hit hard between 2007 and 2010, shedding nearly 25,900 jobs. This 14.2 percent loss was much more severe than the 5.3 percent decline witnessed by the total labor market.

Making up nearly 15 percent of total manufacturing employment, fabricated metal product manufacturing was not spared from the Great Recession. Shedding 4,180 jobs between 2007 and 2010, only printing and related support activities lost more jobs in the manufacturing sector. Most fabricated metal product manufacturing jobs lost in the metro were in Hennepin County, where the sector declined by 18.4 percent. While numeric losses were less than in Hennepin County, Ramsey, Dakota, and Washington counties each lost over one-fifth of their fabricated metal product manufacturing jobs. Anoka County, while losing 878 fabricated metal product jobs, declined by a less severe 10.7 percent (see Table 2).

Table 2: Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing Trends in the Twin Cities, Annual 2007-2014
Area 2014 Number of Jobs Recession Job Change 2007-2010 Recovery Job Change 2010-2014 Overall Job Change 2007-2014
Numeric Percent Numeric Percent Numeric Percent
Minnesota 42,496 -6,882 -15.8% 5,720 15.6% -1,162 -2.7%
Seven-County Metro 24,197 -4,180 -16.3% 2,754 12.8% -1,426 -5.6%
Hennepin County 8,580 -1,766 -18.4% 749 9.6% -1,017 -10.6%
Anoka County 8,428 -878 -10.7% 1,097 15.0% 219 2.7%
Ramsey County 2,838 -612 -20.0% 394 16.1% -218 -7.1%
Dakota County 2,695 -552 -20.6% 570 26.8% 18 0.7%
Washington County 686 -196 -24.5% 83 13.8% -113 -14.1%
Carver County 571 -127 -19.3% 41 7.7% -86 -13.1%
Scott County 398 -48 -7.7% -181 -31.3% -229 -36.5%
Source: DEED QCEW Program

A Sector Recovers

Contributing $43.7 billion to Minnesota's economy and accounting for 16 percent of the state's gross domestic product, Manufacturing's resurgence since 2010 could not be more welcome. The Twin Cities gained 2,754 fabricated metal product jobs between 2010 and 2014, leading the recovery. With a growth rate of 12.8 percent, this subsector has more than doubled Manufacturing's growth rate of 5.6 percent and far out-paced the total labor market's growth rate of 6.8 percent.

In the Twin Cities Anoka County was responsible for nearly 40 percent of fabricated metal product manufacturing jobs gained between 2010 and 2014. Dakota County also made notable gains in this subsector, growing by 26.8 percent during the same period of time. Only Scott County witnessed losses in this subsector between 2010 and 2014, with most of its manufacturing gains coming from printing and related support activities and food manufacturing.

Overall, fabricated metal product manufacturing in the Twin Cities is still approximately 1,400 jobs or 5.6 percent below its 2007 employment level. Comparatively, all of Manufacturing is 9.4 percent below its 2007 employment level. Both Anoka County and Dakota County, however, have 2014 employment levels in this subsector exceeding their 2007 levels, with Hennepin County still over 1,000 jobs below its pre-recession level (see Table 2).

A Positive Outlook

On the heels of steady employment recovery since 2010, fabricated metal product manufacturing is anticipated to add more jobs in the Twin Cities through 2022. With a projected growth rate of 5.2 percent, this industry is not expected to grow as fast as the total of all industries, but is expected to do much better than Manufacturing as a whole (see Table 3).

Table 3: Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing Employment Outlook in the Twin Cities, 2012-2022
Industry Estimated 2012 Employment Projected 2022 Employment Percent Change, 2012-2022 Numeric Change 2012-2022
Total, All Industries 1,738,875 1,871,483 7.6% 132,608
Manufacturing 162,060 156,947 -3.2% -5,113
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 23,299 24,518 5.2% 1,219
Source: DEED Employment Outlook Tool

With fabricated metal product manufacturing expanding throughout the Twin Cities since 2010 and positive growth projected through 2022, a number of occupations are in high demand. One of these occupations is Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers. Through 2022 this occupation is anticipated to grow by 32 percent, with a need for 260 total hires. The $25.47 median hourly wage for Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators is also much higher than the cost-of-living wage for a typical family of three in the Twin Cities, $17.92. Other occupations those interested in fabricated metal product manufacturing should check out include welders, machinists, team assemblers, and structural metal fabricators (see Table 4).

Table 4: 10 Occupations in Demand in Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing, Twin Cities
Occupational Title Median Hourly Wage 2014 Estimated Employment 2012 Projected Employment 2022 2012-2022 Employment Change
Percent Numeric Replacement Hires Total Hires
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers $21.24 3,076 3,253 5.8% 177 760 940
Machinists $23.01 6,706 7,418 10.6% 712 1,540 2,250
First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating $28.99 7,015 6,926 -1.3% -89 990 990
Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers $25.47 444 585 31.8% 141 120 260
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers $18.98 4,719 4,942 4.7% 223 1,040 1,260
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal $19.63 2,387 2,769 16.0% 382 670 1,050
Production Workers, All Other $14.66 4,581 5,019 9.6% 438 1,200 1,640
Team Assemblers $14.01 10,777 11,162 3.6% 385 1,700 2,080
General and Operations Managers $47.35 23,993 25,903 8.0% 1,910 4,490 6,400
Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters $19.29 1,310 1,334 1.8% 24 530 550
Source: DEED Employment Outlook Tool, Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Program

Manufacturing's economic importance, especially in the Twin Cities, is often recognized behind Health Care, Construction, and Professional Services. Additionally, Manufacturing jobs are often labeled as dirty and low-paying. Recent trends and realities, however, are cutting into these perceptions. For those interested in rewarding, high-tech, high-paying jobs, look no further than Manufacturing.

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