In this current presidential election cycle, there’s been a lot of talk about how to bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States and how to save the domestic manufacturing positions that still exist. So it will probably come as a surprise to many to learn that manufacturing is a growing industry in the U.S. According to, employment in the industrial sector grew 7.5% in the five years ended in 2015. Roughly 855,000 jobs were created during the period.

In addition, the Institute for Supply Management reports that half the country’s manufacturers anticipate revenue increases of at least 10.5% this year, while 32% expect revenue to hold steady. Manufacturers are currently operating at 81.7% of capacity, up from 79.5% in April 2015.

Manufacturing is actually a growing industry in the U.S. See the top cities:   Tweet This

A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development found that manufacturing companies tend to cluster close to cities and resources. “When companies are clustered together it tends to attract the kind of skilled labor force that they need and attract the suppliers that they do business with,” said Howard Wial, executive director of the Center for Urban Economic Development in a Crain’s Chicago Business article.

So what are the largest manufacturing cities and regions in the U.S.?

Los Angeles

According to a Make it in L.A. study, Los Angeles is the largest manufacturing city in the country, with more than 500,000 employees in the sector.  Manufacturing industries in the greater Los Angeles area are quite diversified, encompassing aerospace, biomedical, apparel and textiles, metalworking and packaging, among others. Most manufacturing companies in the area are either stable or growing, according to the study. And there’s room to expand. Roughly 58% of the manufacturers have unused production capacity.


Chicagoland ranks second for U.S. manufacturing jobs, with 409,000 workers, according to the Wall Street Journal. The area is attracting jobs for workers who don’t necessarily need a four-year degree, employed by companies known to be “moderately high tech.” Though the area has experienced some manufacturing job losses in the past few years, manufacturing positions make up a disproportionately high ratio of the jobs there. The diverse range of manufacturing industries operating in the region includes fabricated metals, food production, machinery and plastics/rubber products, according to the Center for Urban Economic Development report.

New York metro area

The New York City/New Jersey metropolitan area employs roughly 368,000 in the manufacturing sector, according to the Wall Street Journal. About 76,300 of those work in New York City, according to the New York Daily News, which cited distilleries, tech-focused manufacturing and woodworking among the industries represented. These companies tend to be smaller, and are often entrepreneurial. On the other hand, chemical manufacturing makes up a sizable part of New Jersey’s industrial landscape, with 49,000 employed in this sector, according to New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Other items made in the state: machinery, metal products, computers, electronics and food. About 340,000 people are employed in manufacturing throughout the state (this figure takes into account employment in New Jersey cities outside the metro area).


With 232,000 manufacturing jobs, Houston is a hub for industrial positions, especially in the energy sector. The fabricated metal and machinery industry has seen some job losses in the past few years, according to a study by the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, but overall numbers are still high.

Tennessee cities

Tennessee employed about 313,500 in 2012, and that number is expected to rise slightly to 318,800 by 2022, says the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. A third of these manufacturing workers, around 105,000 people, are employed in Tennessee’s automotive industry. According to Business Climate, they work in auto assembly operations or for components suppliers. Automotive manufacturing plants are found in Chattanooga, Spring Hill, Smyrna and McMinn County. Appliance manufacturing is also strong in Tennessee, with companies employing workers in Cleveland, Memphis, Kingsport and Jackson.

Michigan cities

Michigan boasts several metropolitan clusters with large numbers of manufacturing jobs. The state has experienced a welcome rebound in employment in the sector during the past six years. Crunching numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires of found that the Detroit area (including Dearborn and Livonia) employs 89,300 in the industrial sector, representing a 31.9% increase since 2009. Kotkin and Shires cite Warren, Troy and Farmington Hills, also Detroit suburbs, as experiencing manufacturing job increases of 38.7% since 2009.

Business owners looking to relocate, expand or find manufacturing operations should consider moving to a region where a strong manufacturing presence already exists. Qualified workers are easier to find, and local governments in these areas might be more inclined to offer economic incentives.

Photo Credit: Lifestock, Twenty20