What Happens After Manufacturing Jobs Disappear? Non-Manufacturing Alternatives for Industrial Regions

November 01, 2006

Funding: The Brookings Institution

Summary:  The continued loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is a well-known and well-studied phenomenon that continues to be a concern to business, labor, elected officials and policymakers at all levels of government, and researchers. Yet we know relatively little about what happens in places that have lost manufacturing jobs. Have other jobs filled the vacuum, or is there a net loss of employment? If other jobs have replaced manufacturing jobs, what sectors have they been in, and how do wages in sectors where jobs have been gained compare to wages in the manufacturing sectors where jobs have been lost? What steps have the public sector, business and other sectors taken to change the industry, technological, and/or product mix of the metropolitan area economy, and how effective have those steps been? The study focused on U.S. metropolitan areas that had concentrations of manufacturing jobs above the national average in 1990 and that lost manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 2005. It described the patterns of manufacturing job loss and non-manufacturing job gain (or, in a few cases, loss) that occurred in these areas. Through a set of case studies of eight metropolitan areas, it then examined various policies and strategies by which government, business, and/or civic institutions sought to replace lost manufacturing jobs with new jobs in non-manufacturing industries.