The U.S. manufacturing sector is a global powerhouse, employing 11.7 million and accounting for 11% of the nation’s GDP. Although U.S. manufacturing currently faces unprecedented challenges, the industry remains a profoundly important component of the country's economy.
The nation’s cities are playing a vital role in securing the future of U.S. manufacturing.
As the sector evolved over the past decade to include high-tech and advanced manufacturing processes, more industrial companies set up shop in America’s cities, tapping into an educated workforce with the skills to handle the demands of cutting edge manufacturing. In many ways, urban America has led industrial growth in the post-recession era.
Today we’re going to take a look at some of the nation’s top manufacturing cities, measured by number of employees.
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Given that Texas is the nation’s second-largest manufacturing state, after California (home to 1.2 million workers or roughly 13% of the entire U.S. manufacturing workforce) it’s no surprise that Houston would be its largest city for manufacturing jobs. The city is home to 3,005 companies employing 196,111. Roughly third of the city’s industrial companies distribute internationally, while 14% import raw materials.
Houston is home to some major employers like KBR, Inc. as well as a host of petrochemical companies and facilities that serve the oil industry. Learn more about our Houston-Galveston-Brazoria database.
2. New York
New York has long held second place in our annual list of top manufacturing cities. With 1,997 companies employing 142,105, New York City accounts for roughly 20% of the state’s industrial jobs.
Home to big names like Pfizer, the city is also home to a growing number of start-up, many of which set up shop at the storied Brooklyn Naval Yards.
Read more about top companies in the state of New York here.
The City of Big Shoulders is also home to some big manufacturers, like Ford’s massive assembly plant on the city’s South side as well as a growing number of manufacturing hubs and incubators like Mhub and Hubs.
Currently, 2,131 industrial companies operate in the city, employing 109,969 workers.
Drawn by a growing tech industry and a talented workforce, many industrial companies have chosen to set up shop in the city.
4. St. Louis
St Louis is home to 1,139 manufacturing companies, employing 73,681. Boeing is a major employer in the city, accounting for 14,000 workers.
Other top employers include Anheuser-Busch and Bayer CropScience. Want to know more about Missouri’s industrial sector? Read our article Seven Key Facts on Missouri Industry.
5. Fort Worth
Texas makes another appearance on our top list of manufacturing cities. Fort Worth ranks sixth in the nation for manufacturing employment, home to 764 companies employing 72,205.
6. San Diego
One might assume that Los Angeles would have ranked among the top cities, or at least the top city in California and although that used to be the case, San Diego has risen to the top, only by virtue of the fact that Los Angeles has sunk to 3rd place.
Looking back over MNI’s historical data, Los Angeles accounted for 97,000 jobs back in 2008. By the year 2010, that figure had fallen to 85,000 and now, in the year 2021, the city accounts for 56,843 workers.
Meanwhile, San Diego’s manufacturing workforce has remained steady throughout, accounting for 71,263 jobs currently, roughly the same as in 2010 when it reported 71,054 jobs.
One difference to consider: Los Angeles boasts far more manufacturing companies than San Diego, home to 1,091 companies, compared to 776 in San Diego.
The sunny city of Phoenix ranks 8th on our list of top industrial cities, with 1,446 companies and 71,005 workers.
Honeywell Aerospace is both the city and state’s top industrial employer, home to 15,816 workers.
Ohio is a major manufacturing state and Cincinnati is its largest city in terms of manufacturing employment.
Home to 1,113 manufacturing companies employing 70,275, it is also the 7th largest city in the nation for industrial jobs. GE Aviation Systems is a major employer in Cincinnati, accounting for 6,500 workers.
Interested in learning more about Ohio manufacturing? Check out our post Five Things to Know About Ohio Manufacturing.
851 manufacturers operate in the city of Louisville, employing 67,847. 8,000 of the city’s industrial workers are employed at Ford’s huge assembly plant, while 6,000 are employed at Haier U.S. Appliances Solutions.
The city’s industrial sector has grown significantly over the past decade, adding 19,000 jobs or roughly 37% since 2010.
Like many states in the U.S. South, Kentucky continues to attract new investment, particularly in the auto industry. Learn more about our Kentucky database here.
Rounding out our list of top 10 manufacturing cities in the U.S. is Indianapolis, with 1,022 manufacturing companies employing 67,765
With its low business costs, top-notch infrastructure, and generous incentive programs, Indiana has helped manufacturers grow and thrive.
Ely Lily is the city’s largest industrial employer, home to 10,157 workers.
Data for the top ten manufacturing cities in the U.S. was collected by MNI, compiler and publisher of industrial data since 1912.
MNI’s 80-person research team pinpoints every industrial establishment in the U.S. Each company is contacted multiple times annually to ensure its information remains up-to-date and complete.
MNI is the nation’s top source of industrial information, providing comprehensive data for sales, marketing, prospecting, purchasing and sourcing.
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Editor's note: The article was originall published in July of 2020. It has been updated to include new statistics for 2021.