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Some Manufacturing Sectors Are Doing Well

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Most people probably wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that employment at online retailers or internet publishing and web search portal firms grew at a double-digit annual average pace over the last 10 years ending with 2016.

On the other hand, manufacturing employment growing at such a fast pace might raise some eyebrows.

The U.S. manufacturing sector employed about 1.8 million fewer workers in 2016 compared with 10 years earlier, but many industries within the sector have posted solid to robust job gains.

For instance, breweries and wineries top the list of manufacturing industries with the largest number of job gains over the last decade, with 33,185 and 24,785 jobs, respectively, in the nation, according to data from the North American Industrial Classification System.
Employment in these industries plateaued during the Great Recession, and did not decline like manufacturing overall.

Employment at wineries has been growing at a steady annual average rate that translates into 5.3 percent growth in the past 10 years, while breweries saw a 8.6 percent increase, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that are enhanced with self-employment calculations imputed by Chmura Economics & Analytics.

In the Richmond area, employment at breweries jumped from 176 to 268 in the past decade, while employment at area wineries increased to 38 people from 4 workers a decade ago.

In addition to breweries and wineries, other food and beverage manufacturing industries also are among those with the most job growth during the last decade.

Within the past 10 years, retail bakeries nationally expanded by 21,074 jobs – a 2.6 percent annual average rate of growth – while perishable prepared food manufacturing increased by 17,884 jobs, or an annual average growth of 4.4 percent.

Employment at retail bakeries in the Richmond metro area outpaced the nation with 3.6 percent annual average growth, but prepared food manufacturing declined by an annual average 0.6 percent in the region over the same period.

All food and beverage manufacturing industries combined added 149,716 jobs to the U.S. economy over the last decade and 629 jobs in the Richmond metro area.

Another significant contributor to manufacturing employment growth over the last 10 years is transportation equipment manufacturing industries, which typically fall faster than most manufacturing industries because they produce costly items that can last many years with maintenance.

Aircraft parts and auxiliary equipment manufacturing grew the most within this transportation equipment manufacturing group, adding 16,391 jobs. Shipbuilding and repairing was close behind, expanding by 13,103.

Neither of these industries has a large presence in Richmond.

Manufacturing employment in the nation reached the highest level in August that it has seen since January 2009.

This is good news because manufacturing jobs pay a much better wage than the average industry sector and provides opportunities for workers at all education levels.

(This article first ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Oct. 2, 2017)

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