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Top 5 Industries in Pennsylvania: Which Parts of the Economy Are Strongest?

Image: Top 5 Industries in Pennsylvania: Which Parts of the Economy Are Strongest?
Sight of pipeline construction in Pennsylvania. (Knightshade/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 10 Apr 2015 04:34 PM

Heavy manufacturing, energy production and petroleum processing have historically dominated Pennsylvania, less so now as the state's chief industrial sectors have become more balanced.

Pennsylvania's energy sector remains a bright spot, thanks to the shale gas boom resulting from the new "fracking" technology that allows the exploitation of previously hard-to-access and deep deposits of natural gas.

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Here is a breakdown of the state's five largest industries (by employment):

1. Industrial machinery and equipment (12 percent):
This reflects Pennsylvania's heritage as a heavy industry manufacturing state. The energy processing and steel mills that have played such an important role in the state's economy, continue to need the heavy machinery and equipment required to make them operate smoothly and efficiently.

According to Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the state's 42,000 existing manufacturers can expect significant growth because the state's natural gas and energy boom has increased demand for component parts. Pennsylvania ranks among the top six states for the potential to create these jobs. Among the jobs seeing significant increased demand are industrial maintenance, machine tool operators and welders. Demand also increasing for workers who can program, install, operate and maintain computer-controlled machines and robots

2. Fabricated metal products (11 percent): This industry is closely allied with industrial materials, concentrating instead on transforming metal into intermediate or end products —  other than machinery –— by forging, stamping, bending and forming.

As opposed to the heavy industrial machinery sector that became concentrated in western Pennsylvania, the fabricating industry generally was located in eastern Pennsylvania. When the heavy industrial sector declined dramatically because of the national loss of manufacturing, the fabricating business wasn't as heavily hit, and continues to contribute significantly to the state's economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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3. Food and Kindred Products (11 percent):
Pennsylvania began as a farm state and continues today to rely on raising and processing food. But as agricultural costs in the state continued to rise compared to other farm producing states, the business turned to more specialized, value-added products, according to Britannica. Milk, eggs, poultry, fruits, corn, mushrooms and Christmas trees are among the greatest revenue-generating products.

4. Chemicals and Allied Products (9 percent):
The natural gas boom has strengthened the chemical sector, as demand increased for materials and chemicals that support fracking. Because Pennsylvania was one was nation's leading oil-producing states, it developed a strong refining and petrochemical industry that remains vital today.

5. Printing and Publishing (7 percent): No small thanks for this prospering industry goes to Benjamin Franklin's ingenuity. By expanding his print shop into newspaper publishing and by leveraging Philadelphia's central location in early America, he expanded his business into a profitable printing and publishing network, according to The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Other publishers followed. Philadelphia's Curtis Publishing Company once was the nation's largest publisher, with its flagship Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and others in its stable of magazines.

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Heavy manufacturing, energy production and petroleum processing have historically dominated Pennsylvania, less so now as the state's chief industrial sectors have become more balanced.
industries in pennsylvania, economy
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2015-34-10
Friday, 10 Apr 2015 04:34 PM
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