In the warm afterglow of Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for Indiana’s manufacturing sector.
Recently, Brian Burton, CEO of the Indiana Manufacturers Association noted in the Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly (Fall 2017) the importance of manufacturing to our home state of Indiana, and the lofty position that’s placed us in the national picture. Following are a few highlights…
Most people, even in Indiana, have little idea how important manufacturing really is to the state. In fact, it’s the driving engine behind Indiana’s economy. Last year it accounted for $98.4 billion, or 29% of our GDP. That dwarfs everything else we do: for example, coming in at a distance second place with only half the GDP impact was finance, insurance and real estate. Retail stood at 6%, wholesale industry at 5% and construction at 4%. For the record, the “information” industry recorded 2% of the state’s GDP, and farming was just 1%. That might surprise a few folks.
In terms of that $98.4 billion GDP, Indiana ranks 6th in the nation overall, behind only California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois (barely) and North Carolina. Moreover, on a per capita basis, Indiana ranks number one overall in the nation, with nearly $15,000 output of GDP per person. That’s about two and a half times the national average.
From a jobs standpoint, Indiana is actually the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country, and the number-one manufacturing employer with over 528,000 residents employed in the sector.
Indiana also pays some of the highest wages, and manufacturing is the largest supplier of benefits, particularly healthcare. When you combine wages and benefits the average annual compensation for manufacturing in 2016 was almost $74,000, compared to about $46,000 for all “nonfarm businesses” in Indiana.
Drilling down for a second, metal fabrication is the top category of manufacturing, with machinery manufacturing ranked second. While transportation ranks fifth (think: Recreational Vehicles) from an employment perspective it’s number one by far, employing over 130,000 Hoosiers (metal fab employs 59,000).
Is there a downside to all this good manufacturing news? Well, maybe. Most folks here know that finding employees is a big concern, and that appears true across the state. Finding qualified employees remains a top challenge, notes Burton, who wants to ensure that everyone in the state from elected officials to schools, parents, students and everyone else know of the many opportunities and bright future in our state for manufacturing. In that regard, there is clearly still much work to be done, as Indiana strives to maintain its high national ranking in one of the key job-building forces in the nation.
But on the upside, we’re starting that effort from a very high place.