This report provides a detailed examination of Advanced Manufacturing in the Central region. This report 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.
Advanced Manufacturing is a particularly vital component of the Central region’s economy. With nearly 30,000 workers, Advanced Manufacturing accounts for roughly 9 percent of the total jobs base of the Central region—the highest share of any region in the state. Advanced Manufacturing also pays more, on aver-age, than any other major industry sector in the region. Thus its importance extends far beyond its own workers and businesses, and is vitally important to the continued health of the local shops, stores, and service businesses that cater to its workers.
The Central region is not dominated by any single subsector as we find in other areas. Instead, it has significant industrial specializations in every Advanced Manufacturing subsector, except Food Processing and Production. Because the its size and scope, there are considerable opportunities for training and workforce development initiatives that capitalize on the shared skills among the different subsectors.
But because of its historic dependence on manufacturing, the Central region has also suffered greatly from de-industrialization of the past several decades. From 2001 to 2012, the region has lost nearly a quarter of all Advanced Manufacturing businesses and over one-third of its jobs. All subsectors decline over this period, with the most job losses in Computers and Electronics, Fabricated Metals, and Chemicals and Plastics. Some subsectors are beginning to show signs of recovery, however. Fabricated Metals, Medical Equipment and Food Processing all added net jobs since the depths of the Great Recession. Unfortunately, employment rolls in Chemicals and Plastics, Computers and Electronics, and Paper and Printing continue to de-cline.
The aging of the Advanced Manufacturing workforce poses a major challenge to the Central region. Although slightly younger than the statewide average, we can still expect nearly a quarter of today’s workforce to reach retirement age within the next ten years. But with proper training and outreach, these retirements may create opportunities for young workers, non-traditional manufacturing workers (such as women) and others seeking good-paying jobs.