Kentucky manufacturing employment climbed for a fifth straight year, according to the 2016 Kentucky Manufacturers Register, an industrial database and directory published by Manufacturers' News Inc. (MNI).
MNI reports Kentucky gained 3,151 manufacturing jobs from October 2014 to October 2015, or 1.1 percent. The state is now home to 4,924 manufacturers employing 292,001 workers.
"Kentucky has reinvented itself as a hotbed for auto manufacturing following the recession's steep losses," says Tom Dubin, MNI president. "Its labor costs are among the lowest in the nation, and its favorable business environment continues to draw manufacturers to the state, with the transportation equipment industry growing by a third since 2010."
Gains were led by the transportation equipment industry, which increased 7.4 percent over the year and has climbed steadily over the past several years. Transportation equipment ranks as the state's largest sector by number of jobs, employing 49,863 people.
By comparison, employment in Tennessee's transportation equipment industry grew 5.4 percent over the year and currently employs 51,001. Proportionately, Kentucky's transportation equipment sector accounts for a larger percentage of overall industrial employment, accounting for 17 percent of the state's factory jobs, compared to Tennessee's 13 percent.
Kentucky's transportation equipment sector is expected to keep growing as Ford expands hiring at its Louisville plant and GM adds jobs at its Bowling Green facility. Several Kentucky auto suppliers also announced openings over the year, including IWIS, which broke ground on a facility in Murray; American Howa Kentucky, which announced plans to open a plant in Midway; TWB, which will open a facility in Glasgow; and Grupo Antolin, which plans to establish two factories in Louisville, eventually employing 200.
Food processing, the state's second largest industry by manufacturing employment, also added jobs, up 1.3 percent to 33,882, while third-ranked industrial machinery grew a half percent and now employs 28,838. Other Kentucky industries adding jobs over the year included lumber/wood, fabricated metals, stone/clay/glass, paper products and rubber/plastics.
Industries that lost jobs over the year included electronics, textiles/apparel, printing/publishing and chemicals. Industrial locations announcing closures included two Regal Beloit electric motor plants in Mount Sterling and Winchester, and frozen meal processor Gourmet Express in Greenville.
City data collected by MNI shows Louisville is Kentucky's top city by manufacturing employment with 57,331 jobs. Second-ranked Lexington lost 3 percent of its industrial employment and now accounts for 18,050 jobs. Industrial jobs in Bowling Green fell 1 percent to 13,695.
For more information, visit www.mni.net.