The Changing Geography of US Manufacturing From 1940 to 2016

August 01, 2019

Between 1940 and 2016, employment in manufacturing shifted across America from the Northeast to the Midwest and the Southeast. The industry lost ground in many places and is now the largest employer in only two states--Indiana and Wisconsin. In 1940, 23% of workers were employed in the manufacturing industry, and they were concentrated in 15 northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes states. As the economy shifted toward services at the beginning of the new millennium, the share of employment in manufacturing declined to less than 15%. In 2000, the industry was the largest employer in 18 primarily southeastern and central states. Increased foreign trade and offshoring contributed to continued industry job losses, and by 2016, the share of employment in manufacturing hovered at 10%.