Despite a recent slowdown, manufacturing plays an integral part in the overall economy: In 2018, the sector accounted for 12.8 million jobs in the country, up from 12.3 million in 2014, according to a new report published by AdvisorSmith. In fact, manufacturing accounted for a solid 8.2 percent of total employment in the country, while output was worth $2.3 trillion in 2018.
Still, much of the action remains concentrated in the industrial Midwest and South, which accounted for 39 out of the top 50 cities where manufacturing is considered to be surging, the report found. The Northeast, meanwhile, had just three cities.
In the Midwest, cities with a solid manufacturing sector focused on automative, agricultural and raw materials, while the South maintained strong oil and gas, chemical and furniture industries.
Interestingly, manufacturing continued to play a pivotal role in small and midsize cities, which accounted for nine out of the top 10.
Take a closer look at the top five cities where manufacturing is thriving:
1. Elkhart, Indiana:
Elkhart, nicknamed the "RV capital of the world," nabbed the No. 1 manufacturing city. Roughly 52 percent of RVs produced in the U.S. are made in Elkhart Country, according to the study.
In 2018, the Indiana city produced 507 percent more jobs for manufacturing, on a per-capita basis, than the average U.S. city. Its manufacturing output totaled $6.68 billion.
2. Columbus, Indiana:
The small city, located in central Indiana, is one of the biggest manufacturing cities in the U.S; 38 percent of the people who work in Columbus are employed by the manufacturing industry. The city is best known for producing automotive engines -- in part because the city serves as the headquarters of Cummins, a Fortune 500 company that designs, manufactures and distributes engines. It had a manufacturing output of $4 billion in 2018.
3. Rocky Mount, North Carolina:
The small North Carolina city was once known for its textiles and agriculture industries but has evolved into a major manufacturing and pharmaceutical powerhouse. It's helped by its distribution-friendly location at a junction for major highways and railways.
It's home to several manufacturing companies, including Cummins, an engine-producing company and one of the area's largest employers.
4. Kokomo, Indiana:
The third Indiana city to land on the top five list, Kokomo is known for its automotive and manufacturing industries. Although it was once home to Chrysler, Delphi and General Motors, Kokomo took a hit during the financial crisis, which greatly impacted the automotive industry. Still, in the decade since then, the auto industry has bounced back -- and Kokomo along with it. Today, the city is one of the biggest producers of automotive transmissions parts in the world.
Kokomo’s manufacturing output was $3.7 billion in 2018
5. Sheboygan, Wisconsin:
The small Wisconsin city, which sits near Lake Michigan, was once an active shipping port. Today, it's a major industrial center that produces various manufacturing products, including automotive parts, metal products, furniture, plastics and orthodontic goods.
The largest employer in Sheboygan is Kohler Co., which manufactures enameled iron and metal sanitary ware.
In 2018, Sheboygan's output was $3.1 billion.