The last fifteen (15) to twenty (20) years has seen a dramatic decline in the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States. The Bush administration tends to write-off those losses as "productivity improvements". Others, concerned because so many products are now made overseas, blame it on Wal-Mart and the like.
Both have contributed to that decline. I have personally witnessed numerous cases of manufacturing productivity improvements eliminating jobs. Manufacturers do it to keep costs in line, especially if they are burdened with very high medical health care premiums they pay for their employees.
Example: A plastic garbage can is being molded at a small plastics factory in the midwest. The old machine could do just one (1) can at a time, with about a 2-minute cycle time. The operator would sit and wait for each can to be molded. The company invested in new machinery that can do multiple cans at one (1) time. The packagining function was moved to a location next to the machine, so the operator packs the cans while he is waiting for the next set of cans to be finished. No more wasted time.....the elimination of a couple jobs, with an increased output. This is happening all over the country.
I searched the internet for information on manufacturing jobs in metropolitan areas. Although I didn't find a chart, I did browse the HUD website and developed my own chart.
Los Angeles is the biggest manufacturing metro.....with 883,042 jobs. That is a decline from 1980 of 255,206 jobs. I thought that mumber significant in view of the number of people who moved to California in the last twenty (20) years. (Cuts in military production certainly had an impact in LA.)
Metro New York is second.....with 851,768. That is a decline of 699,867 since 1970. That is a huge decline! (Textiles in older factories, perhaps?)
Metro Chicago is third.....with 720,234. That is a decline of 280,008.
The city we all love to hate.....and a city I assumed (incorrectly) would have the largest manufacturing loss.....metro Detroit.....is fourth in manufacturing jobs.....with 488,341. Their decline since 1970 is 100,271.
Rounding out the top five (5) is Metro Dallas.....now with 371,126 manufacturing jobs. That is an INCREASE of 121,293 since 1970. I expected this to be an increase.
(Houston also had an INCREASE.....106,501, since 1970. (They are now rated at number 8.)
Minneapolis / St. Paul is a vibrant metro for manufacturing employment. They rank at number 10, with 272,044 jobs. Since 1970 they have INCREASED by 71,753.
A couple places that have always been associated with manufacturing.....
Pittsburgh.....now ranked number 21, with 148,020 jobs. Their decline since 1970 is 154,117, about a 50% loss. Incredible.
Cleveland.....now ranked number 15, with 196,254 jobs. Their decline since 1970 is 121,299, about a 38% loss. All is now quiet in the Valley of the Cuyahoga.
My own metro, Toledo, OH, went from 78,611 in 1970 to 64,326 in 2000.
Keeping you informed.