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Illinois Manufacturing Employment Losses Slow As Chicago Adds Jobs

Contact: Jennifer Ratcliff
Manufacturers' News, Inc.
(847) 864-9440 ext. 241
jratcliff [at]

EVANSTON, Ill, March 12th, 2018/Manufacturers' News, Inc./-- Illinois manufacturing employment declined for a third straight year, though at a much slower rate than reported in previous years, according to data collected by MNI (Manufacturers' News, Inc.) publisher of industrial data for all fifty states. MNI reports Illinois lost 2,966 industrial jobs in 2017, less than 2016’s loss of 3,864 positions and a far cry from the 7,000 jobs the state shed in 2015.

Notable in this year’s report is the continued rise in manufacturing jobs for Chicago, with the city’s industrial employment climbing for a third straight year.

Illinois’ 16,998 manufacturers currently employ 791,525, reports MNI. The state has struggled to recover from the recession, with industrial jobs inching up just a half percent between 2010 and 2014. The losses of the past three years have erased those gains.

“While many other states have bounced back from the downturn, Illinois struggles to return to pre-recession manufacturing job levels,” says Tom Dubin, President of the Evanston, IL-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. “Competition from neighboring states is strong, while the budget impasse had a serious effect on the state’s business climate. However, Illinois is home to a strong, diverse industrial sector, and an educated workforce. The state has maintained its grip in traditional industries like machinery and food processing, while fostering growth in innovative, high-tech enterprises.”

Companies moving out of Illinois accounted for about 30% of manufacturing job losses, reports MNI, with 35 companies employing 875 workers migrating to other states in 2017. This is considerably less than the forty companies and 1,411 jobs migrating to other states in 2016, and stands at the lowest migration rate since 2014 in which 27 companies left the state.

Wisconsin remains a popular destination for manufacturers leaving Illinois. 20% of migrating companies headed for the Dairy State in 2017, followed by Indiana with 17%. Florida, Missouri and New Jersey each lured 12% of departing Illinois manufacturers.

Chicago’s migration rate also appears to be slowing, MNI data suggests, with twenty manufacturers leaving the city for other parts of the state in 2017. This compares to twenty-six migrating manufacturers in 2016; thirty-one in 2015, and forty-one in 2014. Chicago has added 1,343 industrial jobs in the past year alone, and now accounts for more jobs than it had since the end of the recession.

Employment levels in most Illinois industries were virtually unchanged over the year, reports MNI, with the sharpest declines seen in industrial machinery (-2.5%); printing/publishing (-2.1%) and furniture/fixtures (-2.1%). Only two sectors posted notable gains: rubber/plastics (+3%); and lumber/wood (+1%). All other sectors posted marginal changes in employment.

Industrial machinery and equipment remains the state’s top sector by number of jobs, employing 126,334. Food processing ranks second with 94,645 jobs, followed closely by fabricated metals with 94,507 jobs.

Manufacturing locations announcing closures included a General Mills facility in West Chicago; Butterball’s massive meatpacking plant in Montgomery; American Coal Co.’s New Era mine in Galatia; Pace Industries in Chicago; and Alfa Laval’s Standard Refrigeration plant in Wood Dale.

These losses were offset by a number of new plant openings, including Crop Vitality, which established a liquid fertilizer plant in East Dubuque, Phibro Animal Health Corporation, which opened a nutritional products facility in Quincy; and Rivian Automotive which established operations at the former Mitsubishi site in Normal. Additional bright spots for the state included U.S. Steel’s announcement that it will re-open its idled steel plant in Granite City in response to the Trump administration’s new tariffs on imported steel.

Manufacturing employment held steady in Northern Illinois, says MNI, while losses were sharp in the state’s central regions.

Northern Illinois accounts for the majority of Illinois’ manufacturing jobs, with Northeast Illinois home to 71% of the state’s workers. Industrial jobs declined 4.8% in West Central Illinois, and fell 2.3% in East Central Illinois. Together, the two regions comprise about 12% of the state’s industrial employment. The south of the state experienced little change in manufacturing employment, and comprises 8% of Illinois’ manufacturing jobs.

Suburban Cook County manufacturing jobs inched up a third of a percent, but industrial employment levels in the area have continued to sink since the end of the recession. Currently, suburban Cook County stands at 185,404 workers, compared to 215,724 reported at the end of 2010 – a decrease of 16%.

By contrast, the collar counties have largely maintained their industrial employment levels since the end of the recession, and some have grown significantly. Manufacturing jobs in Kane County, for instance, have grown 16% since the end of 2010.

Established in 1912, MNI is the nation’s oldest and largest compiler of industrial information, offering tailored solutions to help customers connect with 430,000 manufacturers and suppliers. MNI’s industrial marketplace IndustryNet: is a one-stop resource that connects buyers with suppliers of 10,000 + products and services, and allows users to obtain competitive quotes, create and view company profiles, post company news releases, photos, videos, job openings, and more. MNI’s subscription service EZ Select: provides access to MNI’s live interactive database of manufacturers. For more information, contact MNI at 847-864-7000 or visit
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