Colorado gets a D for manufacturing economy

Researchers at Ball State University graded all 50 states on their manufacturing efforts – and Colorado just barely passed.

The research gave the state a D+ for manufacturing, despite news that the sector is rebounding from the recession, said Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research.

While production will have a record year this year and next, he said employment will be varied in the states.

“Some states, such as Indiana, have seen a real turnaround in manufacturing employment since the end of the recession,” he said, noting that the sector was up 4.6 percent. “While the nation as a whole has seen one in 50 manufacturing jobs lost.”

Manufacturing jobs are important economic drivers, said UCCS economics professor Fred Crowley, because of the high number of indirect jobs they create. For every manufacturing job, there are an additional seven other jobs created to support the manufacturing endeavor, he said.

Colorado didn’t do as badly in other grades from Ball State. It earned a C- in logistics and a C in human capital. It got a C+ for the low cost of business, but a D+ in the state’s global reach.

However, the state earned a respectable B for productivity and innovation, and an A in venture capital. The researchers gave the state a B for its tax climate and a C for economic diversification.

“Prior to the recession, business location and expansion decisions were almost wholly driven by the availability of skilled workers,” said Hicks. “Today, that is far less a short-term consideration, and tax rates and concerns about future tax increases due to high pension costs and other factors dominate business decisions to relocate. So states emerging form this recession with a solid fiscal climate will tend to outperform those with uncertain balance sheets.”

The Ball State group’s stated mission is to promote manufacturing and logistics in Indiana. According to their own survey, Indiana gets four As. The closest state, Ohio, gets three.

A state-by-state breakdown can be found here.