This report provides a detailed examination of Advanced Manufacturing in the Pioneer Valley. 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.
With over 600 businesses and 22,000 employers, Advanced Manufacturing accounts for nearly eight per-cent of the Pioneer Valley’s total employment base in 2012. The region’s Advanced Manufacturing sector is dominated by Fabricated Metals and Machinery, which alone accounts for nearly half of sector’s establishments and employment. The region also has significant industrial specializations in Chemicals and Plastics and Paper and Printing. Earnings in the Pioneer Valley tend to be lower than statewide averages in most subsectors—although they all exceed the overall wage levels for the region.
The Pioneer Valley’s Advanced Manufacturing sector has suffered from layoffs and business closures over the past several decades. Since 2001, the Pioneer Valley’s Advanced Manufacturing sector lost nearly 8,000 jobs—roughly a quarter of all Advanced Manufacturing employment in the region. While certainly a blow to the region’s economy, the Pioneer Valley actually fared somewhat better than most other regions during this time. Furthermore, there are signs of recovering in the years following the Great Recession of 2008/09. The Advanced Manufacturing sector has post net job growth each year since 2010, with the regionally dominant Fabricated Metals and Machining subsector posting particularly noteworthy growth that closely matches expansion at the national level.
The aging of the Advanced Manufacturing workforce poses a major challenge to the Pioneer Valley in the years ahead. More than a quarter of today’s workforce will reach retirement age within the next ten years—a larger share than either the nation or the state. But with proper training and outreach, these retirements may create opportunities for young workers, women, and others having a hard time finding a path to well-paying jobs in the modern economy. We also find considerable overlap in skill requirements across the varied Advanced Manufacturing subsectors in the region, suggesting ample opportunities for targeted training programs that meet the needs of a variety of employers.