Report: Manufacturing still significant player in Pennsylvania economy

May 9, 2012

The U.S. manufacturing industry is continuing to outpace the rest of the economy, especially in areas like Pennsylvania, a state where certain regions are benefiting from growth in the sector, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The report highlights the specific regions within the U.S. that are benefiting from a resurgence in the sector, and how manufacturing jobs in certain states are offering much higher salaries than positions in other industries.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported that manufacturing employment in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton region, as a percentage of all employment in the region, is a 10.8 percent, putting the area as the 16th-highest spot among the nation's top 100 metropolitan regions.

According to the news outlet, the region also ranks 13th for the average number of workers at a manufacturing plant, as there are roughly 73 employees at each facility, compared to just 39.9 on a national level.

"Manufacturing is not dead," Frank Corcione, Ph.D., who was a specialist in labor issues as an economics professor at the University of Scranton before retirement, told the Times-Tribune. "It still is significant."

Pennsylvania is a state that has a concentration of manufacturing jobs within six metropolitan areas, as employment in the sector is clustered into Allentown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Scranton and Pittsburgh. These combined areas contain more than 70 percent of the manufacturing jobs.

According to the news outlet, the sector is benefiting from the growth of industry on a national level, and areas across the country are seeing more diversified and advanced manufacturing jobs due to the expansion.

The Brookings report found that employees in manufacturing, on average, earn higher wages than people in other sectors, and the Scranton region is no different in this regard.

The Times-Tribune reported that this area saw manufacturing workers making an average salary of $44,958, a level that is 22.5 percent higher than other positions in the area.

This high pay could be due to the types of manufacturing that have gained in prominence in the U.S., as the Washington Post reported that computer and electronic products comprised 9.6 percent of the national sector, the third-highest level within the industry behind fabricated metal products and food.