Manufacturing is big business in the Kansas City area, but as with many other sectors it took a hit in the Great Recession.
The Census Bureau takes an Economic Census every five years, most recently in 2012. Its totals for the five-county area made up of Johnson, Wyandotte, Clay, Platte and Jackson:
▪ 1,530 manufacturing businesses, about one-third of which have 20 or more employees.
▪ 69,376 payroll employees.
▪ $3.8 billion in annual payroll.
▪ Nearly $39 billion in shipments and services provided.
Unfortunately, some of those figures were down from the previous Economic Census, before the recession in 2007. The main hits were a 12 percent drop in the number of businesses and a 9 percent cut in payroll employees.
The value of shipments and services actually was up 4 percent, perhaps indicating a trend toward more high-dollar manufactured goods in the local mix. Payroll also was down just 1 percent, indicating that the average manufacturing job was paying more.
It will be interesting to see in the next Economic Census in 2017 whether the numbers of manufacturing businesses and workers have continued to slide, or have rebounded past 2007 levels.
In county by county breakdowns, Clay County’s 2012 numbers look particularly weak versus 2007. But it’s important to note that 2012 was an unusual year for the Ford Claycomo plant, by far that county’s largest manufacturing employer.
The plant was deemed the most productive auto plant in the country in 2011. But in 2012, though it continued making the best-selling F-150 truck line, part of the plant was down while it switched from making the Escape, whose work had gone to another plant, to making the new Transit van.