Sunbelt markets entice manufacturing job seekers with lower cost of living and attractive wages

March 21, 2023
  • Elizabeth Keiger
  • Mehtab Randhawa
  • Kelsey Rogers

Source: JLL Research, Q1 2023, Lightcast, BLS

  • U.S. based manufacturing announcements have dominated news headlines in recent months. The locations of the mega-sites for EV, battery and semi-conductor production are strategic in their locations for a variety of factors, with one being the cost of labor. The average annual median salary for a manufacturing employee in 2022 was $43,908 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Furthermore, with rising inflation and a precarious macro-economic environment, many job seekers are flocking to metros that are more affordable and offer fitting wages.

  •  Another factor related to labor and site selection is the cost of living for the employee. For context, the “cost of living index” measures how affordable or expensive an area is to live and work in. The baseline figure in the U.S. is 100, thus the lower the cost of living index number is, the more affordable it is. While the average median wages trend higher in a high cost of living area, the additional elevated expenses that come with living there negate any benefit to the increased salary. Due to these factors, the Sunbelt has emerged as prime destinations for many of these sites.

  • Notable announcements from markets in this chart:
    • Kansas City -- Panasonic EV battery plant creating 4,000 jobs
    • Savannah – Hyundai Motors plant creating 8,100 jobs
    • Detroit- Our Next Energy EV battery plant creating 2,000 jobs