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Manufacturing jobs on the rise in Tennessee

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A worker for Nissan North America Inc. inspects air leaks Nov. 2, 2012, at the manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of Nissan)

Industrial employment has increased about 1 percent over the past year, according to a recently released report published in the Tennessee Manufacturers Register.

In total, Tennessee gained more than 3,300 industrial jobs from September 2011 to September 2012, making the state home to 7,150 manufacturers that employ nearly 378,000 workers.

The data were released as part of an industrial directory that is published annually by Manufacturer News Inc., based in Evanston, Ill.

“Tennessee continues to see its manufacturing sector improve,” said Tom Dubin, president of Manufacturer News, which has been surveying the industry for the past century.

In addition to the new Whirlpool Corporation plant that opened in Cleveland, several manufacturers operating in Tennessee have announced expansions, including the Nissan North America Inc. plant in Smyrna.

For analysts, Dubin said, the data indicate that more and more companies are looking to Tennessee to expand business ventures and maintain a competitive edge in a global marketplace.

“Its business-friendly environment and solid infrastructure,” Dubin said, “have made it easier for manufacturers to do business, drawing major companies to the state.

According to the directory, Smyrna boasted an impressive 6.7 percent increase in manufacturing jobs. The town is now home to 9,131 jobs in the manufacturing and industrial sector.

The three largest industrial sectors all saw an increase in employment during the past year, according to the report.

Following a 10.8 percent increase in jobs, transportation equipment has overtaken industrial machinery as the top sector by employment, and currently accounts for 44,358 jobs.

Second-ranked industrial machinery and equipment accounts for 42,179 jobs, up 1.5 percent over the year. Fabricated metals ranks third in the state with 40,820 industrial jobs, a gain of 2.4 percent during the same timeframe.

Other sectors that grew included instruments and related products, up 3.4 percent, as well as the production of stone, clay and glass items, which also rose by 1.5 percent.

Some industries, however, did experience reduced employment.

Furniture and fixture manufacturers suffered the largest loss at 7.7 percent, while lumber and wood companies followed with 4.9 percent reduction in jobs. The printing and publishing industry also saw a 2.8 percent decline in employment.

Some of those losses can be contributed to the closings of the Cleo Inc. plant in Memphis, Philips Luminaries in Sparta, and the Sara Lee-Kern Bakery in East Tennessee.

According to the report, Memphis remains the top city for manufacturing employment with more than 37,000 jobs, despite a 1.6 percent decline in the past 12 months.

Even so, southeast Tennessee accounts for the largest share of industrial employment with 113,098 manufacturing positions, up 4.9 percent over the year, while West Tennessee is home to nearly 82,000 jobs.

Read more from:
Business, Development, Jobs, Manufacturing, Nissan, Rutherford County, Smyrna, Tennessee, Unemployment
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