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Tennessee's Industrial Jobs Holding Steady

By Jeaneane Payne

sl tennessee
SL Tennessee

According to industrial directory 2012 Tennessee Manufacturers Register®, Tennessee's industrial employment dropped only 1.4% over the past year. Manufacturers' News, Inc. (MNI) who publishes the directory has reported that Tennessee lost 5,645 manufacturing jobs during the past year while 22,286 jobs were lost during 2009-2010.

Tennessee currently has 7,262 manufacturers which employ 375,099 workers.

"The recovery is gaining momentum in Tennessee and across the U.S.," says Tom Dubin, President of MNI, which has been surveying industry since 1912. "The state's low business costs and educated workforce have been a draw for a variety of enterprises."

Tennessee's giant leaps in the industry included:

• Marathon Heater's expansion into Brownsville
• Nissan's expansion of its Smyrna plant
• Volkswagen opened its Chattanooga plant and most recently hired its 2,000th employee
• NYX Inc, an automotive supplier, is bringing 400 new jobs to Perry County, TN in a $23 million manufacturing plant.
• A new Eastman Chemical plant in Kingsport
• Gestamp's creation of 230 new jobs by the end of 2012
• US Farathene's expansion into Jackson
• SL America's expansion into Clinton with SL Tennessee, a GM approved automotive parts supplier

Founded in 1996, with 3 employees and one product, cartridge heaters Marathon Heater, Inc. was selected by Inc. magazine in 2002 as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies in the United States. Marathon currently has a 40,000 square foot division in Brownsville, Tennessee with plans to employ 60-70 people within the next year.

Coupled with the opening of an distribution center in Chattanooga which created 1,400 full-time jobs and 2,000 seasonal jobs with $64 million in annual payroll, it appears that Tennessee's economy is on the upswing.

Tennessee's top manufacturing sector, industrial machinery and equipment, was up 4.4% with 41,625 jobs. Second-ranked Fabricated metals is the second-ranked sector and accounts for 40,130 jobs, up 1.1%. Third-ranked transportation equipment saw an increase of 1.3%, and currently employs 39,763 industrial workers.

Industrial job declines throughout the state during the last year included those in furniture/fixtures, rubber/plastics, printing/publishing, lumber/wood, textiles/apparel, stone/clay/glass, and chemicals.

Jobs rose 1.6% in food products manufacturing.

According to the industrial directory, Northeast Tennessee accounts for the largest share of the state's industrial employment with 107,569 manufacturing jobs. Southeast Tennessee ranks second at 107,018 manufacturing jobs. Southwest Tennessee is home to 83,220 industrial jobs, with no significant change reported, while the Northwest is home to 77,292 jobs.

Memphis remains Tennessee's top city for manufacturing employment, with 38,304 jobs. Nashville ranks second with 28,099 jobs, and Chattanooga is home to 22,322 industrial jobs.

Industrial employment in Knoxville remained steady with 15,855 jobs, while Kingsport is home to 9,124.

Sources: Manufacturers' News, Inc., Gestamp, Marathon Heater (Brownsville)

Published November 8, 2011

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