Rural Communities are Manufacturing Centers Compared to Metro Markets

Rural communities present substantial economic opportunities.  Manufacturers in the United States account for 11.39% of the total output in the economy, employing 8.51% of the workforce.[i] Total output from manufacturing was $2,334.60 billion in 2018.[ii] In addition, there were an average of 12.8 million manufacturing employees in the United States in 2018, with an average annual compensation of $84,832.13 in 2017.[iii] The percentage of the American economy manufacturing makes up has been declining steadily since the 1950s but it remains a substantial component of the nation’s’ economy with its high-wage jobs.

Whether it is the attraction of a skilled and ready workforce, fewer labor unions and flat, ready land primed for development, rural communities are often the choice for manufacturing corporate site location projects. The table below illustrates that rural counties in Ohio, North Carolina and Missouri all have a higher concentration of manufacturing workforce wages than their metro counterparts and Rural Michigan is only slightly behind metro Michigan centers.  All these markets are strong manufacturing centers as they are above a location quotient of 1.  Measures of location quotients are a statistical tool to indicate whether a particular industry cluster is strong or weak in a region.  Based upon national averages, a location quotient of 1 defines the region as meeting the national average for that industry.  A location quotient below 1 indicates the region does not have a particular industry cluster strength in that market and above 1 illustrates the industries relative strength.

Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and North Carolina all are manufacturing centers with location quotients at or above one for all four states.  The Detroit region as home to the American auto industry is the only metro center to have more manufacturing than the state’s rural counterparts.  Rural Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio all have a larger concentration of manufacturing compared to their urban counterparts. Ohio is the leader among these four states when it comes to manufacturing strength in rural markets with a location quotient double the national average but Michigan, Missouri and North Carolina all are strong manufacturing centers.