The decades-long decline of manufacturing jobs in Pa. | The Numbers Racket

LORDSTOWN, OH - NOVEMBER 26: An exterior view of the GM Lordstown Plant on November 26, 2018 in Lordstown, Ohio. GM said it would end production at five North American plants including Lordstown, and cut 15 percent of its salaried workforce. The GM Lordstown Plant assembles the Chevy Cruz. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

A new report by Smartest Dollar, a financial and consumer advocate website, found that Pennsylvania’s manufacturing jobs have declined by more than 33 percent in the past two decades. 

The report found that employment in manufacturing jobs has been on the decline since 1979, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics data. 

While manufacturing made up 13 percent of the nation’s nonfarm workforce in 1999, by 2019 that number was at just 8.5 percent. 

Manufacturing’s share of the workforce may be down, but manufacturing output has increased due to advancements in technology and overall efficiency, the report noted. 

Growth varies by subsector

Over the last 20 years, growth has more than tripled in the computer and electronics subsector of manufacturing. Meanwhile, the apparel and leather goods subsector has faced steep declines with a percent change of more than -50 percent. 

Some Pennsylvania-centric data from the report:

  • Share of employment in manufacturing: 9.5 percent
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -33.5 percent (289,600 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs 2019: 575,400
  • Total manufacturing jobs 1999: 865,000

How Pennsylvania compares to the rest of the nation:

  •  Share of employment in manufacturing: 8.5 percent
  • Change in total manufacturing jobs since 1999: -25.9 percent (4,482,000 total jobs lost)
  • Total manufacturing jobs 2019: 12,840,000
  • Total manufacturing jobs 1999: 17,322,000
Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.