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Fiscal Facts: Manufacturing is a bigger share of Wisconsin’s workforce than most other states

In 2017, the manufacturing sector in Wisconsin produced $59.1 billion in economic output, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the most recent year for which figures are available. That year, manufacturers employed 16.4 percent of the state workforce, nearly twice the national average of 8.6 percent and second only to Indiana.

In addition, overall manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin still provide significantly higher than average pay despite factory workers being less likely to have a college degree. The average manufacturing job in the state paid $56,980 in 2017 compared to the average annual wage of $47,250 for all workers. Jobs in production, or on the factory line, provide relatively strong wages though they pay less than the average across all state occupations. Manufacturing workers are also more likely to belong to a union than other Wisconsin workers.

The industry also accounts for the vast majority of state exported goods. The U.S. Census Bureau reports manufacturing contributed $20.8 billion of Wisconsin’s $22.3 billion in total exported goods in 2017, or just over 93 percent — above the national average. Manufactured goods have consistently made up that percentage or more of state exports over the past decade. The industry’s 2017 state exports were also 58.7 percent more than in 2000, even after accounting for inflation.

This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. Learn more at

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