“Manufacturing Matters” Tour Visits Rockford, Highlights Industry’s Important Role in State and Regional Economy 

New Economic Study Finds Manufacturing Generates $11.2 billion in Economic Output in Winnebago County, Supports 40,133 Jobs

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) continued its statewide “Manufacturing Matters” tour on Wednesday during a regional manufacturing roundtable event hosted by the Rockford Area Economic Development Council to detail the results of a new economic impact study measuring the industry’s significant contributions to the state and regional economy.

Conducted by independent economists at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the study found the total economic impact of manufacturing in Illinois is estimated to be between $580 billion and $611 billion every year – the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product. Manufacturing directly employs 662,298 workers but ultimately supports as many as 1,771,928 jobs, generating up to $150 billion in labor income for Illinois residents annually. In all, it’s estimated that the manufacturing industry supports nearly 30 percent of all jobs in Illinois, making it among the state’s largest industry sectors.

“Manufacturing is a key pillar of our state economy, and the industry’s success is vital to our state’s success. Illinois manufacturers feed the world, make life-saving products, power our homes and businesses, build our infrastructure, transport people and products around the globe and provide for our nation’s defense,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Manufacturers are the innovators and entrepreneurs, the builders and producers, and the dreamers and leaders who are solving our challenges and creating our future. It’s imperative our elected officials enact polices to allow for the industry’s continued success, foster capital investment and grow new jobs for generations to come.”

Manufacturing is particularly important in the Rockford region. In Winnebago County, the study found the industry creates $11.2 billion in economic output each year, supporting almost 35 percent of the county’s economy. This includes 40,133 jobs, generating $2.7 billion in salaries and benefits for working men and women in the area. In Ogle County, manufacturing creates an additional $2.0 billion in economic output each year, supports 5,125 jobs and generates $316.4 million in salaries and benefits.

The study’s findings were detailed during a manufacturing roundtable hosted by the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) at the Northern Illinois University Conference Center in Rockford. The RAEDC collaborates with regional stakeholders to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that increase the economic well-being of the Rockford region, markets the region to attract new capital investment, assists existing businesses with resources for sustainable growth and works closely with many partners to improve the competitiveness of the region.

“Manufacturing is at the heart of the massive economic and social vibrancy of our region,” said Therese Thill, President of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council. “Despite challenges presented by the pandemic, manufacturers are coming up with new ideas to increase production capacity and reduce supply chain challenges while creating good paying jobs that allow workers and communities to thrive. With adequate government policy and regulatory support for manufacturers, especially around workforce skills development, the Rockford area will continue to be a powerful economic engine for growth not only in Illinois but the Midwest.”

The new economic impact study is among the most comprehensive looks at the true impact of manufacturing in Illinois, which has historically been underreported. The standard metrics fail to capture the multiplying economic effects of the industry, including hiring and purchases from vendors to support manufacturing operations. The study found the Illinois manufacturing industry has an employment multiplier of 2.7, meaning that for every 10 jobs directly created by manufacturers, another 17 jobs are created elsewhere in Illinois. This multiplier effect is significantly higher than other industries in Illinois, underlying the importance of adopting policies to support growth of the manufacturing industry.

“An important takeaway from this study is the sheer size of manufacturing’s economic presence in Illinois. Every job created by a manufacturer spurs additional hiring and spending across multiple industries in the state. These secondary economic effects, known as the multiplier effect, represent additional contributions to the economy and should not be overlooked,” said Joseph C. Von Nessen, Research Economist at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. “Because this multiplier effect is significantly higher than other industries in Illinois, future expansions of manufacturing have the potential to generate relatively higher secondary employment impacts compared to similar expansions in other sectors. The ongoing recovery from the pandemic as well as the long-term economic health of Illinois will depend on the continued success of manufacturing.”

As part of the study, economists also examined the manufacturing industry’s evolution in the face of rapid technological development, with trends suggesting a shift toward a higher-skilled workforce. This underscores the importance of working closely with education institutions, policy makers and manufacturers to provide specialized training, and the need to further expand workforce training across the state to better prepare Illinois residents to enter high-demand fields. The IMA is leading these efforts, including successfully championing the creating of two new world-class manufacturing academies scheduled to open this fall, passing legislation requiring all high schools to offer career and technical education by 2025, establishing an apprenticeship tax credit for manufacturers that train employees, and partnering with the Pritzker Administration to launch a new multi-million dollar ad campaign highlighting manufacturing jobs that will launch later this year.

Additional “Manufacturing Matters” tour stops are planned to take place in communities across Illinois in the coming weeks. For more information, including a full copy of the report, please visit https://ima-net.org/2022economicanalysis/

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, visit https://ima-net.org/.