Good News! The Midwest Industrial Sector Grows More Industrious, Again

Not long ago, the Depression-era so-called Dust Belt was replaced with another colorful yet sobering geographic sobriquet for the economically blighted Midwest region of America – the Rust Belt.

For generations, states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio had been hearty manufacturing and industrial hubs, creating amazing boom towns such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cleveland, Youngstown and Akron that became home to millions of hard-working Americans who helped shape the economy of post-war America with steel, rubber, automobiles and other deliverables.

There’s been lots of talk and discussion on what happened to the once-thriving industrial centers of the Midwest – theories ranging from the unfairness of NAFTA to the cheap manpower of out-of-country work forces to the realities of cities placing “all their eggs in one basket” when it came to the diversity of industries within these industrial hubs. Energy consumption expense in the Seventies and the rise of mechanization in factories certainly had an impact as well, with the result being that these once-great cities and the entire Midwest region became blighted and impoverished and a great deal of ‘worker flight’ began to occur. Census-wise, Detroit and Cleveland and Akron and even Pittsburgh are shadows of their former selves.

Smart and forward-thinking governments and urban planners have begun to diversify the manufacturing offerings of these once-powerful industrial centers. Health care, higher education, technology, energy production … these and other economic silos are helping to reset the balance of economy in Midwestern cities and these cities are slowly returning to vestiges of their former glory. (It also helps that young adults, empowered by the Internet, are realizing the vast difference in the cost of living in Midwestern meccas compared to East Coast and West Coast localities where it’s become virtually impossible to earn a decent living and enjoy life with the high prices for real estate and rent, etc.)

These are all good developments for the Midwest, but another big development is that industrial manufacturing also appears to be making a comeback – at least in some Midwestern areas.

According to a very recent article in Staffing Industry Analysts, industrial manufacturing is making a slow comeback. To quote the report, “Findings indicate the employment market is strong across all sub-sectors within industrial space, with the exception of oil and gas, where hiring has risen slightly but remains at a low level. Engineering, procurement and construction, oil and gas, heavy equipment and automotive posted the largest increase in job postings on a percentage basis compared to the fourth quarter. Aerospace, EPC, and oil and gas were up compared to last year’s first and fourth quarters.” This is certainly encouraging news, and one we at Flex-Team take note of since our “bread and butter” per se is to provide temporary employees to firms and factories that are over-worked and need additional staff. When our light industrial clients find that their orders are increasing, we are able to provide them with additional labor power to meet those orders in a very short amount of time – without our clients needing to hire-on additional permanent employees at a breakneck pace.

You can read the entire SIA article here to get a deeper understanding of the positive picture being painted for industrial business in America.

Another promising article that explores the regrowth of the Midwest industrially (among other regions) is one from venerable Forbes magazine, titled “Where Manufacturing Is Thriving In The U.S.” The very first paragraph of this article sets the tone for the positive reporting that follows: “Throughout the dismal presidential campaign, the plight of America’s manufacturing sector played a central role. Yet despite all the concerns raised about factory jobs leaving the country, all but 18 of the country’s 70 largest metropolitan regions have seen an uptick in industrial employment since 2011. And despite the slowdown in car sales, the job count continues to expand, albeit more slowly.”

Some of the cities highlighted in the reporting that are in our neck of the woods include Grand Rapids, Warren, Detroit – all in Michigan – as well as Columbus and Cincinnati in Ohio. You can view a gallery slideshow presentation of the top 15 cities experiencing industrial growth right here.

We at Flex-Team are of course pleased and excited about this reporting because it concerns one of the two major industries or job silos that we focus on with our workforce staffing solutions – light industrial staffing.


Are you a business owner, GM or HR specialist tasked with keeping your supply of labor healthy and strong during productivity runs and boosts in orders? If so, we’d love to discuss with you how our flexible team of temp associates can serve your needs efficiently and rapidly. Please contact us to get that conversation started here. You can also learn of the many advantages of working with the Flex-Team by visiting this page on our website.

Have a great day and a productive week.

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