Careers in the Midwest: Cars and Construction

    The construction and automotive industries in the Midwest are thriving and as the amount of new job opportunities increases, there is a high demand for skilled workers. Despite the frequent predictions about the impending doom of these industries in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, the Midwest outlook in the construction and manufacturing industries is promising. Ohio and Michigan offer proof.


    In the last year, the US construction industry has grown so much that companies are struggling to fill all of their positions. Employers have started to offer higher wages, benefits packages and incentives to attract potential employees. Wage data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2017 “construction trade workers” earned more on average than other occupations with pay starting between $13 to $21 per hour.

    Ohio’s construction workforce, for example, experienced a major boost in job opportunities in late 2018, and as a result, nearly 90 percent of construction firms in the state expect to hire more workers in the coming years. Hospitals, apartment complexes, and office buildings are the biggest drivers of construction in the region, so commercial and residential construction supplies in Lyndhurst, OH, and other suppliers across the Midwest are working with contractors to facilitate the high demand.

    Nationwide, response to natural disasters often bring in good opportunities for temporary construction work, but because of the Midwest’s consistent economic growth, the construction industry does not depend on that scenario and is projected to remain lucrative, with long-term career possibilities.

    Manufacturing and auto

    At its peak in the 1950s, the manufacturing industry employed 30 percent of Americans. In 2017, however, the number of factory workers in the US topped out at around 8.5 percent. While that number may seem low, the manufacturing industry has indirectly generated millions of jobs — resulting in higher wages for employees than the healthcare and education industries — with an average of $56,800 per year.

    Michigan’s Grand Rapids region is the country’s largest manufacturing sector and is home to numerous industry leaders, including the automotive giant General Motors. It accounts for more than 14 percent of jobs in the area, making it the epicenter of West Michigan’s economy. Grand Rapids also holds the nation’s highest concentration of production technology, metals, plastics, and more. Precision materials like industrial tungsten carbide wear parts made in Michigan are produced and distributed nationwide. Since 2009, the number of manufacturing companies in Grand Rapids has grown to more than 2,500, and that number is expected to increase.

    Michigan has a long and reputable history in the automotive industry. Sixty-three of the nation’s top 100 automotive suppliers are located in the state. As the auto industry shifts, there is a new focus on autonomous and connected smart cars. Ann Arbor has become a distinctive hub of research into the innovation of self-driving cars, creating a new generation of opportunities in Michigan.

    Ohio is investing in its automotive industry as well. The Buckeye State holds a unique position in regard to its evolution. Since costs are low to operate there, companies are moving to the area at an increasing rate to conduct new research and development into connected and autonomous cars. A single auto plant typically employs around 5,000 people, with higher than average wages and benefits, while also creating thousands of industry-adjacent jobs. An auto body repair shop in Ann Arbor, MI, a car dealership in North Olmsted, OH, an auto parts supplier, or a collision center are just a few types of opportunities that have originated from the growth of the automotive field in Michigan and Ohio.

    Job training

    Fortunately, like the construction industry, there is a demand for skilled auto workers. Talent acquisition programs like JobsOhio and other staffing agencies are collaborating with companies to recruit and train workers on the required skills needed for advanced manufacturing and testing new autonomous cars.