Lowcountry ranks No. 1 for growth of manufacturing jobs

By Matt Tomsic
Published May 29, 2012

The Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metro area ranked first nationally in manufacturing jobs growth from 2010 through 2011, according to a report by the Brookings Institution.

Manufacturing jobs grew by 14.4% in the Lowcountry; nationally, manufacturing jobs grew by 2.7% for the same period. The metro area also outpaced the national average for the number of employees per plant. Local plants employ about 80.5 people per plant versus the national average of 39.9, according to 2009 figures.

Lowcountry manufacturing jobs also pay higher wages than national averages for those jobs, according to the study. “Very high-tech” manufacturing jobs average $100,360 here; while “moderately high-tech” manufacturing jobs pay $68,216, and all manufacturing jobs pay an average of $65,779.

The Brookings Institution defined “very high-tech” as industries that employ five times more scientists and engineers than their economy-wide percentage. Very high-tech industries include aerospace, pharmaceutical and electronic manufacturers.

The organization defined “moderately high-tech” as industries that employ more than twice as many but less than five times more scientists and engineers than their economy-wide percentage. Moderately high-tech industries include petroleum, coal, chemical, machinery, electrical equipment and transportation equipment manufacturers, among others.

“Charleston is growing manufacturing jobs at a faster rate than any other metro in the country because this region offers the expertise and strategic global connections needed to compete in America's renewed manufacturing age," said David Ginn, CEO for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, in a news release.

The Brookings Institution also found 20,700 manufacturing jobs total in the metro area, and those jobs make up 6.9% of total employment.

Eleven percent of the jobs are classified as very high-tech, while 24.6% are classified as moderately high-tech.

The top three industries in the Charleston area are motor vehicles and parts, primary metals and machinery.

In the study, the Brookings Institution ranked the top 100 metro areas in manufacturing categories. It compiled the study from Moody’s Analytics data.

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