American manufacturing has been shaping the landscape of the United States for two centuries. Despite the technological advancements in machinery and automation, the skilled manufacturing worker remains a vital part to this still-growing industry.
To find out where manufacturing jobs are thriving in the age of automation, Kempler Industries looked at 236 cities across the country and analyzed their manufacturing sector based on four key factors including: total manufacturing jobs, year-over-year industry growth, median salary, and median housing costs.
The result was a ranking of the best US cities to be employed and live as a manufacturing worker in 2019.
Small metro areas, as opposed to larger cities, tend to dominate the top 50 spots on the list. Only two cities with populations over 700,000, Boise, Idaho and Portland, Oregon, make it into the top 10 ranking of the list itself. Oftentimes, larger metropolitan areas are filled with more expensive housing prices and more diversified workforces, while smaller cities and surrounding areas offer better cost of living.
Topping the list in the number-one spot is Wichita, Kansas. Wichita has more than 50,000 manufacturing positions, and manufacturing remains a dominant industry in the city’s employment. Beyond that, Wichita saw 4.8-percent growth between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018. The average manufacturing worker takes home more than $50,000 per year, and lives in one of the most affordable cities in the country when it comes to median housing costs—meaning each paycheck stretches further.
The study looked at industry growth in terms of the increase in manufacturing positions between December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2018. Clarksville, Tennessee experienced more than 10-percent growth over the course of 2018 and ranked as the city with the highest rate of growth, followed by Reno, Nevada which saw an impressive 9.9-percent growth during that same period.
Another key factor in this study is the median income for manufacturing workers. Kempler Industries looked at data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in January 2019 and found that the average manufacturing worker in the US earns $54,420 per year, or $27.21 an hour. The median salary fluctuated greatly across the 236 cities analyzed in this study, from the mid twenty-thousands to high seventy-thousands.
While a worker in San Jose, California may earn more than $76,000 each year, the cost of living in that metro area is considerably more than many other smaller metros in the US, leaving less of that income available for spending and saving.