10 Cities at Greatest Risk of Job Loss in a Manufacturing Downturn

U.S. manufacturers enjoyed blockbuster growth in 2018, adding 264k jobs to payrolls, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers in the industry saw new opportunities and wage increases, and some successfully negotiated more favorable labor contracts eliminating the two-tier structure that paid new hires less than legacy employees. 

This year, by contrast, many manufacturers are struggling amid a global slowdown and continuing trade war. Manufacturers have only added one-sixth as many jobs so far this year and actually lost 2,000 jobs in September.

A manufacturing downturn will not cause a recession. Manufacturing only accounts for about 8.5% of total employment nationwide. But in some cities, where manufacturing is the major employer, job losses could spill over into other parts of the economy. 

These ten cities, where manufacturing accounts for an outsized share of total employment, are particularly at risk of job losses in a manufacturing downturn:

1. Elkhart, IN (manufacturing share: 49%), the “recreational vehicle (RV) capital of the world” 

2. Columbus, IN (manufacturing share: 38%), a major producer of engines

3. Dalton, GA (manufacturing share: 36%), the “carpet capital of the world”

4. Sheboygan, WI (manufacturing share: 35%), a producer of a wide range of goods, from generators to processed meat and clothing

5. Kokomo, IN (manufacturing share: 30%), a major auto manufacturing center

6. Hickory, NC (manufacturing share: 28%), a producer of a wide range of goods, from furniture to fiber optic cables

7. Morristown, TN (manufacturing share: 26%), a major producer of buses, cleaning supplies, printed materials

8. Wausau, WI (manufacturing share: 24%), a major producer of paper

9. Oshkosh, WI (manufacturing share: 24%), known for breweries and metal fabrication 

20. Fond du Lac, WI (manufacturing share: 24%), a major producer of boat engines, machine tools, and tankers

Written by

Julia Pollak is Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. She leads ZipRecruiter's economic research team, which provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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