This report provides a detailed examination of Advanced Manufacturing in the Boston/MetroWest region. It is part of an eight-part series, each focusing on different areas of the Commonwealth. It examines recent employment and earnings trends; analyzes key occupations in Advanced Manufacturing’s subsectors, looking for common labor needs and comparing wages to similar workers in other industries; identifies the most common and critical skills needed by employers; and offers a detailed demographic profile of Advanced Manufacturing to highlight areas of critical concern for the future health of the industry.
With nearly 50,000 workers and over 1,000 businesses, the Boston/MetroWest region’s Advanced Manufacturing sector is the second largest in the state. Yet, Advanced Manufacturing represents only a relatively small portion of the regional economy. Advanced Manufacturing in the Boston/MetroWest region is clear- ly dominated by the Computers and Electronics subsector, which alone accounts for nearly half of all Ad- vanced Manufacturing employment and pays the highest wages of any subsector in any region of the state. However, Computers and Electronics has also experienced the most dramatic job losses of late. Since
2001, the region’s Advanced Manufacturing sector has shed nearly 30,000 jobs. Roughly two-thirds of these were in Computers and Electronics. The Fabricated Metals and Machinery, Paper and Printing and Medical Equipment and Supplies subsectors also witnessed pretty substantial declines. Yet employment in all of these areas has stabilized in the years following the Great Recession of 2008/09. Chemicals and Plastics and Food Processing and Production have actually added jobs since 2001.
In general, Advanced Manufacturing subsectors in the Boston/MetroWest region pay higher wages than elsewhere in the Commonwealth. While partly due to the region’s higher cost of living, it also reflects the higher knowledge and post-secondary educational requirements of employers. Advanced Manufacturing in the Boston/MetroWest region specializes in more R&D intensive and high value-added modes of production. This is clearly reflected in its regional labor pool, which contains more workers in occupations requir- ing high levels of scientific, engineering, complex reasoning and technical skills compared to other regions.
The Advanced Manufacturing workforce of the Boston/MetroWest region trends slightly younger than the rest of the state. Nevertheless, we still anticipate that the region will soon be facing a massive wave of retirements in Advanced Manufacturing and should being planning accordingly with more outreach programs designed to attract youth, women, minorities and other types of non-traditional manufacturing workers to the industry.