Manufacturing remains a big business in Alabama, accounting for nearly 18 percent of the state’s total economic output – the eighth highest percentage among all states. Manufacturing also employs more than 13 percent of Alabama’s workforce, the fifth highest rate among the states.
Manufacturing firms in Alabama make just about everything imaginable and send their products all over the world. In 2014, $17.6 billion in manufactured goods were exported from Alabama, more than 90 percent of total goods exported from the state that year, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Exports of Alabama’s manufactured goods surged by 65 percent between 2009 and 2014, the group said.
Alabama’s automotive sector, with facilities operated by four global automakers, has a high profile, as does its aerospace manufacturing sector, thanks to Airbus launching assembly of passenger jets at its first U.S. factory in Mobile. The state has a heritage in metals production, and major players including U.S. Steel, Nucor, SSAB and ArcelorMittal operate large facilities in the state. Alabama remains a production center for ductile iron pipe and fittings used in water systems, with American Cast Iron Pipe Co. (ACIPCO), McWane and U.S. Pipe all considered major players in the segment.
With an output topping $34 billion in 2013, Alabama’s manufacturing sector has remarkable diversity. Austal USA, which employs around 4,000 people at its Mobile shipyard, produces Littoral Combat Ships and high-speed transport vessels for the U.S. Navy. GD Copper USA’s copper-tubing facility in rural Wilcox County is one of the most advanced in the world. The New Flyer assembly line in Anniston produces buses for transit systems around the nation.
Other major Alabama manufacturing and production sectors include chemicals, paper products, coal, fabricated metals, food products, computer and electronic products, and plastics.