It’s a rare sight indeed: The bottom line for America’s manufacturing sector is not written in red ink.
The nation’s 100 biggest metropolitan areas — led by Seattle — actually added 98,900 manufacturing jobs between April 2011 and the same month this year, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics .
That’s happy news for a sector that has been shrinking at a fairly steady pace since 1997, though it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the long-term trend. On Numbers reported two months ago that the 100 major markets had lost more than 1 million manufacturing jobs since the recession began in late 2007.
The current upswing is largely the result of laid-off employees being summoned back to work as the economy improves. Manufacturing employment increased in 62 of the top 100 metros during the past year, with the biggest gains occurring in Seattle (up 12,600), Houston (up 9,000), Detroit (up 8,600) and Cincinnati (up 8,300).
The recent improvement is merely a first step toward recovery of the nation’s industrial might, as indicated by a closer look at the front-runner.
The Seattle area now has 184,400 manufacturing jobs, up from 171,800 a year ago. That’s a nice increase of 7.3 percent, driven in large part by a resurgence of the aerospace industry.
But the fact remains that Seattle had 245,600 manufacturing jobs just 14 years ago. That means, even with the gains during the past year, it’s still 25 percent below 1998’s crest.
The following database offers comparisons for all 100 markets. Re-sort the list by clicking on any column header. Reverse the sort by clicking a second time.