The Rockford Region has an abundant, dedicated workforce of 176,700 in its immediate labor-shed with twice the national average of manufacturing employment, strong Midwest work ethic and strong technical and engineering skills. Some additional statistics regarding the area’s employment concentrations:


Download the latest Northern Stateline Economy & Jobs Report.


Rockford MSA’s employment is 1.7% engineering; 55% higher concentration than the State of Illinois and 31% higher concentration that the United States’ average.

Concentrated Manufacturing Talent Above the National Average

  • 7.2 times, Machinery Manufacturing employment and R&D – 700% greater than the US average
  • 4.2 times, Metals Manufacturing and R&D – 400% greater than the US average
  • 3.4 times, Transportation Equipment Manufacturing and R&D – 300% greater than the US average
  • 1.5 times above the Illinois average in engineer employment – 50% greater than the US average

Majority of engineers are focused on R&D or sales

Leading Manufacturing Community

  • 1st in aerospace manufacturing in Illinois
  • 2nd in manufacturing employment in Illinois
  • 2nd in “on & off” road vehicle manufacturing in Illinois
  • 2nd in industrial machine manufacturing in Illinois

According to the results of the latest Northern Stateline Economy and Jobs Report, a study conducted by the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance, the Rockford Area has a skilled and reliable workforce, drawing upon a household population of approximately 438,000 people in Boone, Winnebago and neighboring counties and totaling nearly 216,000 workers. Another 46,200 in the area can be classified as “underemployed” — people currently employed who would take a better job if offered by a new or existing employer and who possess the skills, experience, and education to qualify them to do so.

Skills of both the underemployed and employed fall largely in office operations, distribution, and manufacturing, with strong representation in healthcare, maintenance and installation, technician, quality assurance, and telecommunications as well.

A profile of existing workers was developed based on interviews conducted with senior management and human resource professionals from industrial, commercial or service sector companies located within the area.

Talent Pipeline

The Rockford Region has established nimble, industry specific, and customized education-to-workforce pipelines ensuring the region has the skilled workforce essential to fulfilling the requirements of sticky jobs. Jobs that are good today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Workforce availability and quality is the deciding factor for businesses when selecting locations to expand or relocate. Many communities talk about workforce development; the
Rockford Region is doing something about it through programs and partnerships such as

  • Northern Illinois University and Rock Valley College’s ABET accredited, four-year bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
  • The Rock Valley College Aviation Maintenance Technology Program that provides talent directly to the AAR maintenance repair and overhaul facility at the Chicago Rockford International Airport
  • Rockford Public Schools District 205 and Rockford University’s Education Pathway to promote teaching careers locally
  • The Saint Anthony College of Nursing four-year nursing degree located at Rock Valley College

The Results

  • 91% of the employers rated the productivity of the workforce as “Good” to “Excellent.”
  • 91% of the employers rated worker reliability as “Good” to “Excellent”
  • 88% of the employers rated worker attitude as “Good” to “Excellent.”