When it comes to manufacturing, Illinois is looking strong. The continued strength of that sector, however, is in contrast with the challenges faced within the state’s workforce as a whole.

Manufacturing plays a key role in the Illinois economy. According to a 2022 economic impact study by the University of South Carolina for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), the manufacturing sector:

  • Has an annual economic impact on the state between $580 billion and $611 billion
  • Supports (directly or indirectly) 1.7 million jobs in the state
  • Directly provides approximately 9.5% of jobs in the state, and indirectly supports around 29.6% of all jobs in Illinois
  • Has an “employment multiplier” of 2.7, meaning that for every 10 manufacturing jobs created in the state, an additional 17 are created elsewhere in the state due to the down-line effects of the industry

Manufacturing in Illinois covers a wide base of subsectors, but the USC study found five are the most significant and impactful. They are (in order): food and agriculture manufacturing, metal fabrication manufacturing, heavy equipment manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and transportation equipment manufacturing.

Despite the relative strength and health of the manufacturing industry in Illinois, it isn’t completely immune to the hiring woes that have affected so many sectors across so many states over the last year or so. The IMA recently launched a “Manufacturing Matters” campaign in hopes of raising public awareness about the breadth of manufacturing’s impact, what careers in the field really look like, and why job seekers should consider joining the sector.

In general, the Illinois job market has been seeing great growth. In November 2022, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported its 17th consecutive month of job growth, adding over 3,600 jobs in the previous month.

However, Illinois continues to see some struggles with filling jobs, particularly due to moving trends. As of 2021, Illinois was the state with the largest percentage of people moving out of state, according to an annual report from Allied and Zillow. This marked the eighth year in a row where the state saw a population decline, which in turn affected the availability of workers to fill jobs, even in core industries like manufacturing. Attracting top talent within this somewhat chaotic situation will require smart strategy, careful consideration of the employee value proposition, and even advice from expert recruiters.