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Manufacturers tout report calling their industry backbone of Illinois’ economy that supports nearly 1 in 3 of the state’s jobs


Thursday, August 4, 2022  |  Article  |  Ben Szalinski

Illinois’ manufacturing industry is responsible for the greatest portion of the state’s economic activity and is a major job creator for the state, according to a new report released Wednesday.


The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association released a study at a news conference in Decatur conducted by economists at the University of South Carolina that examined the impact of manufacturing on Illinois’ economy. The study found manufacturing generates about 13 percent of the state’s gross state product with a total economic impact between $580 billion and $611 billion each year while supporting 30 percent of the state’s work force.  


“The state of Illinois is blessed… with a strong manufacturing base,” association chair Gregg Webb said. “But like everything, if you take these things for granted, they can wither away.” 


Much of the money manufacturing generates goes back to workers, according to the study. Manufacturing jobs create $150 billion of income for workers while manufacturing itself creates 2.7 additional jobs for every manufacturing job. Manufacturing jobs comprise of 9 percent of the state’s work force, but 30 percent depend on the industry.  


Manufacturing jobs are also on the rise in Illinois, according to the study. After jobs in the industry declined by almost 14 percent between 2001 and 2007, the industry grew by 4 percent between 2008 and 2019. Workers in the manufacturing industry also earn an average of $8,000 more than other jobs in the state.  


“What do manufactures do on a daily basis?” association CEO Mark Denzler said. “Feed the world, make life-saving products, power our

homes and businesses, build our infrastructure, transport our people and products around the world and provid[e] for our nation’s defense.”  


The Manufactures’ Association’s new “Manufacturing Matters” campaign will set out to highlight the state’s manufacturing sector and how it is vital to the state’s economic success.  


Denzler said manufacturing is important to Illinois because of the state’s central location as a transportation hub in the U.S. economy.


“Illinois manufacturing played a key role in every major historical event in our nation’s history,” Denzler said. “Now, more than 200 years later, manufacturing remains the single greatest driver of economic progress, innovation, and wealth in our nation.”  


Transportation equipment manufacturing is the fastest growing sector of the industry in Illinois, according to the study, having created 48 percent more jobs since 2009. 


Denzler specifically highlighted Decatur’s role in the state’s economy where 50 percent of Macon County’s economic output comes from manufacturing. Denzler said manufacturing includes tangible products made in factories, but also pharmaceuticals and agriculture-related products like biproducts and ingredients for food. Food manufacturing is responsible for the most jobs in the industry, according to the study.  


Denzler said he hopes the “Manufacturing Matters” campaign will improve awareness about how important the industry is, the opportunities it creates and how many people’s livelihoods depend on manufacturing.  


“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the need for a strong American manufacturing sector and supply chains,” Denzler said.


“Illinois should be leading the nation in manufacturing and the world, quite frankly. When you look at the attributes that we have here in the state of Illinois — we have a central location, we have a great infrastructure system… the roads, the bridges, the water ways, great colleges and universities… we have two national laboratories, we have a global city, a global airport, the only state in the country with all seven class one railroads, we have access to water… and generally affordable energy prices—so we have all these attributes going for us so if we can get a few more policies correct, then that will really add rocket fuel to us and really take off,” Denzler said.  


The manufacturing industry needs help from lawmakers too, Denzler said. 


“It’s imperative our elected officials enact policies to continue to allow the manufacturing sector to grow in Illinois,” Denzler said. 


The study found real estate, financial industries, science and technology and public administration round out the top five industries by contributions to the gross state product.