A decade of winners, losers in Minnesota manufacturing

Minnesota’s lost about 20 percent of its manufacturing employment the last decade, roughly 80, 000 jobs.


Dig deeper, though, and there’s a more complex story to tell.

Some manufacturing sectors are growing, thanks to the region’s medical device industry. On the flip side, whatever computer manufacturing business the state had at the start of the 2000s is largely gone now.

We got a look recently at the decade’s winners and losers in manufacturing thanks to research from Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., an Idaho-based consulting group that likes data as much as we do.

When EMSI posted recently on the “50 Manufacturing Sectors That GREW Over The Past 10 Years,” we asked them if they’d crunch similar data for us for Minnesota. They did.

There are hundreds of manufacturing categories. You can find the full Minnesota data set here.

Here are the 20 biggest categories of winners…


… and losers


The federally collected data are broken down using the North American Industry Classification System. EMSI’s Josh Wright notes that the 2011 job numbers “are better described as estimates right now because of the time lag with certain federal/state sources.”

You can certainly see the growing importance of the region’s medical device companies and ethanol plants over the decade along with the drop in jobs tied to the home building industry.

Take a look at post something below or drop us a line directly if something drops out at you.

Despite the hit, manufacturing still drives about 11 percent of the state’s employment.


Source: Joint Economic Committee

  • John O.

    Interesting analysis. I have not examined this type of data for many, many years, but a couple of things immediately come to mind:

    1) Electronic computer manufacturing, bare printed circuit board manufacturing, computer storage device manufacturing and semiconductor and related device manufacturing are all from the same family tree.

    Production has increasingly shifted outside the U.S. and/or have become less labor-intensive through robotics and other automated processes.

    Put another way: In 1990, I paid $500 to “upgrade” my 286 PC to a 10 megabyte hard disk. That ain’t a typo. I can now buy a 1 terabyte hard disk for $60–100,000 times more storage at 88 percent less money (ignoring inflation).

    2) The near 50 percent reduction in “special die and tool, die set, jig and fixture manufacturing” is the one that troubles me. At least in the old days (30 years ago), my colleagues at the time and I used this occupation as a “bellweather” on forthcoming economic activity.

    The logic at that time was if employment goes up, in “special tool and die” it probably means that more companies are gearing up to expand. Trending lower? Not a good sign.

    I’m all but certain this is archaic thinking now that our economy is far more global now than back in those days. What are today’s “bellweather” occupations that might signal changing economic conditions?