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Berrien County is among the nation’s best places to be for manufacturers, according to a recent report by SmartAsset.

A study from SmartAsset compared 378 metro areas, which ranked the Niles-Benton Harbor metropolitan statistical area as the 28th best place to work in manufacturing.

Manufacturing has a special place in the American story, but for the past few decades, this sector has been largely on the decline, impacting many workers and affecting decisions around things like budgeting and where they call home. Since 1997, more than 91,000 manufacturing plants have closed and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, according to a 2020 study from the Economic Policy Center. Still, there are jobs to be had and careers to be built in the world of manufacturing in the U.S., provided you are looking in the right places. To that end, SmartAsset analyzed various data to find the best places to work in manufacturing in 2020.

To find the best places to work in manufacturing, we compared 378 metro areas across the following metrics: manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce, job and income growth between 2015 and 2018, job and income growth between 2017 and 2018, housing costs as a percentage of income and unemployment. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fifth study on the best places to work in manufacturing. Read the 2019 version here.

Key Findings

  • About one in 10 U.S. jobs is in manufacturing. Manufacturing represents 11.39% of jobs on average across all 378 metro areas we analyzed in our study. The metropolitan area where manufacturing makes up the highest percentage of jobs is Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, where 57.45% of all jobs are in the manufacturing sector. The area where this rate is lowest is Laredo, Texas, where just 0.84% of the workforce is in manufacturing.
  • In recent years, manufacturing income has grown faster than jobs in the industry.From 2015 to 2018, the average number of manufacturing jobs has grown by just 3.66%, while the average income for manufacturing workers has grown by 6.44%.
Image is a map by SmartAsset titled, "Top 10 Places to Work in Manufacturing."

Data and Methodology

To find the best places to work in manufacturing, we compared 378 metropolitan areas across the following metrics:

  • Manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce. This is the percentage of all workers employed by manufacturing firms. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Three-year job growth. This is the percentage change in the number of people employed by manufacturing firms from 2015 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • One-year job growth. This is the percentage change in the number of people employed by manufacturing firms from 2017 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Three-year income growth. This is the percentage change in manufacturing workers’ average incomes from 2015 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • One-year income growth. This is the percentage change in manufacturing workers’ average incomes from 2017 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of average income for manufacturing workers. Data on median housing costs comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey. Data on the average income for manufacturing workers comes from the Census Bureau’s 2017 County Business Patterns Survey.
  • Unemployment rate. Numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for October 2020. This rate incorporates all professions, not just manufacturing-specific ones.

First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. From there, we found the average ranking for each metro area, giving an equal weight to all metrics except for manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce, which we double-weighted. We then ranked the areas based on this average ranking. The metro area with the best average ranking received an index score of 100 and the metro area with the worst average ranking received an index score of 0.

Tips for Manufacturing a Solid Financial Strategy

  • Find an expert who will help you build a financial plan. Whether you work in manufacturing or some other industry, a financial advisor can help you make the most of your income and other money. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • To buy or to rent? If you’re moving to a new city to work in a manufacturing job, you’ll need to find a place to live. Use SmartAsset’s free calculator to see whether it makes sense to buy or rent.
  • Work hard; save hard. Chances are, you don’t want to be in the workforce at your manufacturing job for your entire life; eventually, you’d like to retire. If your company offers a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), make sure to take advantage of it, as it is the easiest option for saving for retirement.

Questions about our study? Contact press@smartasset.com.