The manufacturing industry has always formed the foundation of Pennsylvania's economy. Due to its longstanding nature, manufacturing in Pennsylvania has always been dynamic and constantly shifting to meet modern needs. Today, advanced manufacturing refers specifically to methods involving the use of innovative or cutting-edge technology to improve products and processes.
Pennsylvania's advanced manufacturing and materials industry is experiencing a renaissance in its development. The commonwealth ranked 5th in overall manufacturing value added with $98.2 billion in 2010 – five percent of the national value, and the 6th largest manufacturing Gross State Product in the United States. Manufacturers in Pennsylvania now account for more than 12 percent of the total output in the state. Employment has risen substantially in the last two years – 12,100 jobs were created in 2011 alone. Governor Tom Corbett's initiatives focus on a two-pronged approach to investing in Pennsylvania workers and partnering with job creators, to continue this growing employment trend. Manufacturers in Pennsylvania currently employ 574,000 people, 10 percent of its six million-strong workforce.
Manufacturing in Pennsylvania is highly diverse with no one sector dominating. Pennsylvania's core manufacturing sub-industries include:
- Fabricated metals
- Primary metal
- Paper products
Plastics and Rubber
With Pennsylvania's growing supply of natural gas due to the development of shale gas deposits (the Marcellus and Utica shale beds), the commonwealth's already prominent plastics and rubber products industry is poised for even faster growth. Plastics and rubber manufacturing employed 46,500 people in 2010, ranking the state 6th in the country by employment. Pennsylvania also ranks 5th in the U.S. in both plastics shipment ($8.8 billion) and in value added to the plastics industry ($4.4 billion). Plastics industry shipments in Pennsylvania totaled more than $15.2 billion in 2010 and comprised 4.5% of national shipments ($341.4 billion). Plastic and rubber products are directly linked to the natural gas industry, as in the general manufacturing processes for plastics and synthetic rubbers (SRs), the raw materials – natural gas, petroleum, and coal tar – are refined, distilled and/or fractionated to produce gases, light oils, middle fractions, and heavy oils used to make a variety of medical, automotive, recreation, and construction products.
The Pennsylvania steel industry employs close to 80,000 people and generated $9.35 billion of wealth and economic activity for the state, both directly through the manufacturing and processing of stell and through the ripple effects in the broader economy.
The Marcellus Shale formation – the world's second-largest energy field – and the Utica Shale have presented a specific need that the Pennsylvania steel industry has stepped up to fill. In addition to conventional uses for steel, the natural gas industry requires steel for its pipelines and wells. Making tubular steel is a sophisticated process that involves engineering expertise to create stronger steel needed to sustain the deep drilling and hydraulic fracturing process. In response to the demand, several steel mills have upgraded or opened facilities to produce the smaller diameter pipeline needed for the advanced drilling techniques used to extract natural gas from the shale.
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