Connecticut adds manufacturing jobs at fastest rate in decades
Posted by IndustryNet on Thursday, November 8, 2018
According to new data released by MNI, Connecticut’s manufacturing sector added jobs at its fastest rate in decades.
MNI, compiler and publisher of the industrial information that powers IndustryNet, reports Connecticut added 3,153 manufacturing jobs, or 1.5% between June 2017 and June 2018.
This marks the state’s third straight year of gains, and one that far outstripped increases of the past few years.
Connecticut struggled to add manufacturing jobs after the recession as a strong dollar hit its export market; global competition took hold, and high business costs sent some manufacturers to cheaper locations.
The state’s manufacturing sector all but flatlined, with industrial employment inching down 4% between June 2010 and June 2015.
The gains of the past three years, however, suggest things are looking up for Connecticut manufacturing. In this past year alone, the state added more manufacturing jobs than at any year since MNI began reporting on its manufacturing climate in 2002.
Connecticut manufacturing gains: the year in review
Connecticut’s manufacturing gains were led by the state’s transportation equipment sector, which skyrocketed 13% in the past year. Transportation equipment accounts for the greatest number of industrial jobs in the state, with 40,446 workers.
The industry’s employment levels were boosted by hiring at Pratt & Whitney’s engine plant in East Hartford, and expansions at aerospace suppliers like Aero Gear.
Additional industries adding jobs included food processing; furniture/fixtures; stone/clay/glass; and rubber/plastics.
These gains were offset by losses in chemicals processing, after Alexion Pharmaceuticals moved its headquarters to Boston. Printing/publishing also declined, as did the state’s lumber/wood sector.
Industrial employment levels surged 7% in East Hartford and remained steady in Stratford and North Haven.
A number of companies announced new plants in Connecticut, including Serta Simmons, which established a mattress plant in Windsor Locks.
Other new plants on the horizon include Morgan Truck Company, which announced plans to build a $19 million factory in Plainfield. In addition, Carla’s Pasta expanded its facility in South Windsor for the third time in fifteen years and Economy Spring doubled its manufacturing space at its Southington facility.
A thriving transportation equipment industry
Transportation equipment has led manufacturing job growth for many U.S. states in the post-recession era, and Connecticut is no exception. The industry has been at the forefront of the recent rise in durable goods orders, as reported by the Commerce Department.
Orders for transportation equipment have increased steadily over the past three months, up $1.8 billion or 1.9 percent to $97.4 billion.
This is largely due to significant increases in defense spending, including the lifting of the “sequestration” of the budget caps for defense that have been in place for five years, as well as the tax overhaul. Commercial airline travel is also on the rise, which has contributed much to the increased demand.
Connecticut is home to some major defense contractors like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, UTC Aerospace, and New England Airfoil Products, Inc.
A skilled workforce and focus on innovation
Connecticut’s highly educated workforce has drawn numerous innovative and advanced manufacturing operations to its borders over the years. The recent tax reform bill, enacted in January, has helped many manufacturers invest and expand hiring, while a number of enterprises have set up shop in Connecticut, drawn by its skilled labor pool and focus on technology.
A recent study by CNBC ranks Connecticut 16th in the nation for the quality of its workforce, and 9th in the nation for education.
The tight labor market, however, is proving to be a serious challenge for Connecticut manufacturers -- especially in the aerospace industry -- as the unemployment rate continues to decline.
The state’s Department of Economic and Community Development reported more than 13,000 manufacturing jobs are currently unfilled in Connecticut as of May 2018.
Related: Top resources for finding skilled manufacturing workers
Connecticut continues to partner with community colleges to bring more skilled workers to its manufacturing sector. Programs like the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center fast-tracks students into manufacturing careers and promises a 98% placement rate.
The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology has helped numerous Connecticut manufacturers thrive by implementing new technologies.
Ongoing trade tensions remain a growing concern among manufacturers in Connecticut and across the nation, especially those that rely on imported materials to produce their goods. Because of its large aerospace sector, Connecticut is especially vulnerable to tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
According to Marketwatch, Connecticut is the third-most affected state in the U.S. when it comes to tariffs, with 107,000 of its workers employed by industries that rely on imports of these materials – roughly half of its industrial workforce.
Related: USTR announces new tariffs on 6,000+ Chinese products. Here is the full list.
It remains to be seen how the tariff situation will unfold in Connecticut. Many manufacturers are turning to industrial marketplaces like IndustryNet to find local suppliers of steel and aluminum, while others are seeking exemptions to the tariffs.
By the Numbers
Connecticut’s 4,790 industrial companies employ 215,652 workers. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:
Top 5 sectors in Connecticut by number of manufacturing jobs:
18% Transportation equipment
Largest Connecticut manufacturing companies by number of workers:
Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Co. (Stratford) - 7,500 employees
Connecticut cities with the most manufacturing jobs:
Stratford - 10,931
Top counties in Connecticut by number of industrial jobs
Hartford - 73,274
Contact Connecticut manufacturers
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To connect with industrial suppliers in Connecticut and across the U.S. start your search on IndustryNet. Or, to access detailed profiles of Connecticut’s 4,700 manufactures and their 13,000 executives, learn more about MNI’s IndustrySelect database subscription.
Related Companies: Aero Gear, Inc., CP Foods LLC, Electric Boat Corp., ESPN, Inc., Medtronic, Inc., New England Airfoil Products, Inc., Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins, Inc., Rockwell Collins, Inc., Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Co., Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Co., The Pratt & Whitney Co., Inc.