ST. CHARLES – The Illinois manufacturing sector is starting to rebound since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
"We're down about 32,000 manufacturing workers from this time last year," said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, during a Zoom webinar Wednesday hosted by the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce Industrial Committee in partnership with the Batavia and Geneva Chambers of Commerce and the Valley Industrial Association. "But we have grown 28,500 manufacturing jobs over the last four months. So we're starting to see that V-shaped rebound within the manufacturing sector."
He lauded the efforts of the manufacturing sector as the pandemic continues.
"Manufacturers have answered our nation's call during every crisis and we're doing it again today," Denzler said. "We're seeing food manufacturers increase production and equipment being made for first responders. A lot of our alcohol manufacturers started making hand sanitizer."
He noted that Batavia-based J.C. Schultz/The Flagsource started making masks and gowns to protect people during the pandemic.
"It's really humbling and amazing to see manufacturers step up in this wartime like effort," Denzler said.
Denzler also took note of the importance the manufacturing sector has on the overall economy.
"For every person employed in manufacturing, another 1.6 jobs are created," he said. "It's the single largest economic multiplier of any sector in the United States. What that means in Illinois is that between 1.4 and 1.5 jobs in Illinois are directly or indirectly linked to manufacturing."
The average wage in Kane County for a manufacturing job is about $75,000 a year in wages and benefits, Denzler said. Kane County has the fourth highest number of manufacturing jobs in the state.
Nearly one in five manufacturing jobs in Illinois involve food.
"Food is the number one subsector of manufacturing in the state of Illinois," Denzler said.
He also highlighted the efforts of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association during the pandemic to make sure manufacturing companies stayed open during the state's stay-at-home order that had been in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
"The IMA drafted the essential manufacturing language that was included in the governor's executive order that allowed the majority of manufacturers to continue operating to make these needed products during the pandemic," Denzler said. "The language in Illinois that we drafted that the governor used kind of set a national standard. It served as a base for executive orders in Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia and others."