The auto industry goes flat

Things that transport other things still make up the biggest manufacturing sector in the US, but the number of people employed in the automotive, aerospace, and shipbuilding industries is on the decline. That’s the bottom line from the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Manufactures (yes, there’s no second "r"), released today. The report includes state-level data on the number of workers in each sector, which brings us to the map below:


As you can see, the transportation industry dominates in 14 states. That means automobile manufacturing in the interior states from Michigan to Alabama; shipbuilding in Maine and Virginia; and aerospace in Washington. Food processing is tops in several Southern and Farm Belt states, and the computer/electronics sector is in the lead in much of the Northeast, the West, and Florida. The chemical industry is first in New Jersey and West Virginia, and wood products are king in Oregon.


Our second map shows the biggest manufacturing sector in each state that added jobs from 2005 to 2006. Transportation doesn’t look so hot here, as it shed jobs in 11 of the 14 states in which it is the dominant sector. Michigan, for example, lost nearly 13,000 transportation manufacturing jobs in that single year. It’s hardly compensation that the state gained nearly 300 jobs in the "other general purpose machinery" category, the biggest sector to show any kind of an uptick. Meanwhile, the computer/electronics sector seems to flit around a lot. It added jobs in only four states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Vermont) where it was already the top sector, but it’s on the rise in Arizona and Washington, where aerospace is losing influence.

Nationally, "fabricated metal" was the biggest sector that added manufacturing jobs; that category includes a lot of hardware goods and home-building materials. Of course, manufacturing overall is continuing to shrink as a source of jobs. Employment was up last year in only 14 states: Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.