Manufacturing jobs decreasing, but some positives reported

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Published: April 25,2011

Tags: economy, employment, jobs, manufacturing, workforce

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Industrial employment in Mississippi fell 3.3 percent over the past 12 months, according to the 2011 Mississippi Manufacturers Register, published annually by Manufacturers’ News Inc. (MNI) of Evanston, Ill.

However, both MNI and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) point out there have been some positive news recently.

MNI reports Mississippi lost 5,987 industrial jobs and 83 manufacturers between February 2010 and February 2011, a much smaller decline than the 9,661 industrial jobs and 164 plants MNI reported the state lost over the 2009-2010 survey period.

Manufacturers’ News reports Mississippi is now home to 3,099 manufacturers employing 173,481 workers.

“Mississippi’s industrial sectors continue to be affected by the housing bust and the recession,” says Tom Dubin, president of MNI, which has been surveying industry since 1912. “However, losses have slowed considerably, and the state’s agricultural base and investments in innovative technologies are helping the recovery take hold.”

Bright spots for the state include the planned opening of a Dennen Steel Corp. plant in Iuka; the re-opening of a Crystal Seas’ oyster processing plant in Pass Christian following a shutdown due to the BP disaster; the expected opening of solar panel manufacturer Stion Solar Panels in Hattiesburg; and, the expansions of Olin Corp. in Oxford, BorgWarner Drivetrain Systems in Water Valley, and Sly Inc. in Mathison.

According to MNI, food products manufacturing remains the state’s largest industrial sector by employment, with 23,980 jobs, virtually unchanged from a year ago. Transportation equipment ranks second at 22,353 jobs, with no significant change reported. Third-ranked industrial machinery and equipment accounts for 18,764 jobs, down 2.1 percent.

MNI reports other sectors that lost jobs over the past 12 months included printing/publishing, down 15.2 percent; paper products down 10.8 percent; lumber/wood down 10.4 percent; rubber/plastics down 9.9 percent; textiles/apparel down 9.7 percent; and, chemicals down 9.4 percent. Gains were seen in furniture/fixtures, up 142 jobs and primary metals, up 5.6 percent.

Companies closing down over the year included Quad/Graphics, which shuttered a location in Corinth; International Filing Co., which shut down a facility in Hattiesburg; Movie Star Inc., which closed its textile plant in Poplarville after 57 years; and, Delphi Corp., which shuttered its Clinton location.

MNI reports Southeast Mississippi accounts for the most industrial employment in the state, with 60,172 industrial jobs, down 1.4 percent over twelve months. Northeast Mississippi accounts for 46,846 industrial jobs, down 4.8 percent. The Southwest region of the state is home to 38,692 industrial workers, down 6.8 percent, while the Northwest is home to 27,771, with no significant change reported.

Pascagoula remains the state’s top city by industrial employment with 14,338 manufacturing jobs, down 1.6 percent over the year. Laurel saw employment decrease 2.3 percent and is currently home to 7,347 industrial workers. Jackson accounts for 6,638 industrial jobs, down 5 percent, while Ellisville accounts for 6,107 of the state’s jobs, with no significant change reported. Fifth-ranked Tupelo accounts for 6,069 jobs, down 3.1 percent over the past 12 months.

Still, Jay C. Moon, CEcD, FM, president and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. says, “Manufacturing in Mississippi is alive and well. The recent announcements by Lockheed Martin and Nissan indicate that Mississippi manufacturing is beginning to recover from the losses incurred during the recession.”

On April 19, Lockheed Martin announced plans to open a new Mission Support Center in Clinton, creating up to 350 jobs. The following day, Nissan announced plans to move production of the Nissan Xterra SUV and Frontier pickup models to its Canton plant, adding another 300 jobs.

Both companies are members of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.

Source: Manufacturers’ News Inc. and Mississippi Manufacturers Association

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