Paper Manufacturing a Cut Above the Rest in Northeast MN


by Cameron Macht ~

Northeast Minnesota has the smallest number and concentration of manufacturing jobs in the state, but still has 8,905 jobs at 355 manufacturing establishments, accounting for 6.3% of total regional employment in 2013.

The Arrowhead has just 3% of the manufacturing jobs in the state, but has almost one-fourth of Minnesota’s employment in the Paper Manufacturing sector. With 2,321 jobs at 9 establishments, Paper Manufacturing is easily the largest sector in Northeast Minnesota, accounting for 23.6% of the 9,855 jobs in Paper Manufacturing statewide.

While Northeast Minnesota paper manufacturers cut jobs by 4.1% from 2010 to 2013, the job loss was less than half that experienced statewide, where jobs in Paper Manufacturing fell 10.2%. (See Figure 1.)

NEMN Figure 1

Though not as high in quantity, these jobs are still high in quality. Average annual wages in manufacturing are more than $15,000 higher than the total of all industries, making it one of the highest paying industries in the region.

Paper Manufacturing has the highest average annual wages of any manufacturing sector in Northeast Minnesota, at $76,856 in 2013. And though employment was declining, wages were increasing, climbing 26.5% from 2003 to 2013. (See Figure 2.)

NEMN Figure 2

Not surprisingly, many of the occupations in demand in the Paper Manufacturing sector have higher median wages in Northeast Minnesota, including several that pay $20 or more per hour. General and Operations Managers and Industrial Production Managers  both pay around $35 per hour, while Industrial Machinery Mechanics earned nearly $32 per hour. (See Table 1.)

NEMN Table 1

Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), DEED 2010-2020 Employment Outlook

Cameron Macht is the Regional Analysis and Outreach Manager for the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

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