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Industrial employment in Virginia fell 2.2 percent over the past 12 months according to the 2011 Virginia Manufacturers Directory, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers' News Inc. MNI reports Virginia lost 7,707 industrial jobs between October 2009 and October 2010, about a third of the loss MNI reported over the 2008-2009 survey period.
Manufacturers' News reports Virginia is now home to 6,596 manufacturers employing 336,333 workers.
"Virginia's industrial sectors continue to be battered by the housing bust and the recession," says Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. "However, we're definitely seeing fewer job losses than we did a year ago and new manufacturing facilities continue to emerge."
Transportation equipment manufacturing ranks as Virginia's top sector by employment with 36,054 jobs, up 1.5 percent over the year. Second-ranked food products accounts for 33,597 jobs, down 7.9 percent after the closures of Smithfield Food's pork plant and Krispy Kreme's Lorton plant, among others. Printing and publishing is the state's third-largest sector by employment with 32,319 jobs, down 5.6 percent.
Most industrial sectors in Virginia lost jobs within the past year and included furniture/fixtures, down 14.5 percent, due partially to the closure of Thomasville Furniture's Appomattox plant, and layoffs at Stanley Furniture, among others. Textiles/apparel declined 12 percent; chemicals fell 10.2 percent; primary metals were down 6.2 percent; fabricated metals were down 5.4 percent; lumber/wood were down 5.2 percent; paper products were down 5.1 percent; rubber/plastics were down 3.7 percent; and industrial machinery and equipment were down 3.6 percent.
Bright spots for the state included the opening of several new plants such as Praxair's gas manufacturing plant in Hopewell; snack dip company Sabra's new Colonial Heights facility and Kimball International's plant in Martinsville. Companies planning expansions included Dove Vinyl Windows, Guardian Industries, chemical manufacturer Ashland Inc., and Polymer Group Inc.
MNI's city data shows Richmond is Virginia's top city for manufacturing employment, home to 31,051 jobs, with no significant change reported over the year. Second-ranked Newport News also saw little change in employment and currently accounts for 26,019 jobs. Industrial employment in Roanoke declined 2 percent over the year and is currently home to 12,529 industrial workers. Norfolk accounts for 10,763 industrial jobs, down 8.7 percent over the year while Virginia Beach accounts for 9,460 jobs, up 1.9 percent.