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Industry Spotlight: Manufacturing in the Midwest

In the Midwest, we make things. From cars to furniture and machinery to homes, the Midwest has always has had an economy powered by manufacturing. While that industry has changed significantly over the years, with the decline of the auto industry and decades of policy changes that have affected international competitiveness, manufacturing still remains a significant contributor to the U.S. economy. To paint a picture of the manufacturing industry in the Midwest, we need to take a look at the way this industry affects local and global economies, jobs, and the world.

The Big Picture

The Midwest is a region made up of twelve states; Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. While it’s often seen as providing the rest of the country with food and dairy products, it’s actually producing the products that are contributing to a rebounding economy.

The number two industry in the Midwest is indeed food production, but the manufacturing of production technology, heavy machinery, and more is still number one. Products needed for a productive economy like downstream metal products, trailers, motor homes and appliances, downstream chemical products and metalworking technology, are at the heart of the Midwest Manufacturing industry.

It’s not just the U.S. looking to this region, the entire world relies on the resources manufactured in the Midwest. This means that advanced manufacturing is emerging as one of the strongest sectors of the U.S. economy.

This strength shows itself in numbers, and the manufacturing’s share of total Midwestern gross domestic product (GDP) outpaces other regions in the country.


A strong sector means more jobs and more jobs means a strong economy.

In 2010, the Midwest alone accounted for 30 percent of total U.S. manufacturing and the regional manufacturing workforce represented 10 percent of the region’s total employment, higher than any other region in the country. Looking at individual states, the combination of markets centered in one region is one of the reasons Minnesota’s unemployment rate is currently one of the lowest in the nation.

 It’s not just boosting the number of jobs, manufacturing jobs help employ a wider variety of people than many other industries. Manufacturing employs a higher share of workers without a college degree than the economy overall. On average, non-college-educated workers in manufacturing made 10.9 percent more than similar workers in the rest of the economy in 2012–2013.


Of course, such a strong industry clustered into one area is going to help improve not only the national economy but the local economy as well. According to The Mid-America Business Conditions Index, the overall economic index for the region rose to 60.5 in February from 54.7 in January which is the highest figure since April 2014. 

The same survey showed that economic optimism rose to 71.3 from 69.5 in January.

The Future

While many are still nervous after the fall of the auto industry and change in trade agreements occurring regularly, if the manufacturing industry in the Midwest keeps moving in the same direction, the future is bright…or, perhaps, windy. An increased use of wind energy and the introduction of new energy technologies means even more advanced manufacturing activity in the Midwest. 

Increased use of wind energy has helped fuel advanced manufacturing activity in the Midwest, which is currently home to at least 188 companies contributing to the wind energy industry.

We’re proud to call ourselves a Midwest manufacturer. Our dedication to single-source manufacturing and fabrication has an international impact, in addition to the impact our services have on the local economy surrounding our Watseka, Illinois, headquarters. For more information on our expansive line of products and expertise, visit: