Manufacturing on the Rebound

by Rachel Vilsack

Manufacturing is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy, thanks to its strength, versatility, and innovation. In 2011, more than 300,000 people worked in Minnesota’s manufacturing sector, accounting for 13 percent of private sector jobs in the state and $17.3 billion in total wages paid. Manufacturing jobs in Minnesota expanded by nearly three percent in 2011, the highest year of job growth since 1995.


According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, manufacturing contributed nearly $40 billion in 2011, and represented 16 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product. What’s more, manufacturing exports brought more than $18.4 billion into Minnesota’s economy in 2011. Manufactured exports are responsible for an estimated 114,900 jobs in Minnesota, ranking 15th largest among all states, according to the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Just the Facts

  • One in every nine workers in Minnesota is employed in manufacturing.
  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing (46,030 jobs) and food manufacturing (43,830 jobs) and were the largest employing sectors of manufacturing in 2011.
  • One in every 12 job openings in Minnesota was in the manufacturing sector. Many manufacturers are seeking highly skilled and innovative employees for a variety of positions, including accounting, sales, engineering, quality control, and plant maintenance.
  • In Minnesota, manufacturing careers pay better than average.  The average weekly wage in manufacturing was $1,081, compared to $920 for all industries.
  • Don’t forget about benefits! Workers in manufacturing firms are the most likely to be offered benefits in Minnesota than workers in other industry sectors.
  • The Manufacturing Skills Gap Survey (pdf) found that 45 percent of responding manufacturers in the state considered the shortage of skilled workers to be a moderate or serious problem in 2011.
  • At the end of 2011, 15 percent of Minnesota manufactures surveyed by the Department of Employment and Economic Development reported that they planned to increase employment over the next six months.
  • In Minnesota each manufacturing job supports another 1.3 jobs elsewhere in the economy, through supplier purchases and employee spending.


Join ISEEK, DEED,, and other experts in a Manufacturing Twitter Chat tomorrow (Wednesday, October 24) from 2 to 3 pm moderated by @MinnesotaWorks. Follow the conversation at #MNMW. 


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