Midwest is outpacing the South in creation of manufacturing jobs

You might be tempted to believe that the Southeast is getting all the manufacturing jobs these days, and the Midwest and the North are losing out.

It's a familiar narrative — the historic factory prowess of former Union states is rusting away and being supplanted by a new factory belt in the South. And the anecdotes keep coming.

Polaris, the first snowmobile firm ever and founded in northwest Minnesota, is opening a big ATV plant near Huntsville, Ala. Mercedes USA is moving its headquarters to Atlanta — from New Jersey. BMW is in Spartanburg, S.C. Volkswagen is in Chattanooga, Tenn. The list goes on.

Meanwhile, Detroit is limping out of bankruptcy, and Michigan and Illinois are muddling along economically. Ohio and Wisconsin aren't dynamos either.

Heck, the New York Times even published something this fall about how the Midwest is losing all its good football players. "It is no coincidence that the Big Ten had postwar glory years, when the Midwest thrived on the back of the auto industry," wrote Marc Tracy. "The Rust Belt and the decline of Big Ten football are not unrelated."

Well, Ohio State challenged the narrative of a permanently declining Big Ten by beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. When you look at the numbers on manufacturing jobs, they show that the Midwest is outperforming the Southeast — by a pretty healthy margin.

This was a surprise to me. In the past five years, the Midwest has outpaced the Southeast and has even widened the gap between the two regions when it comes to manufacturing jobs.

Since 1990, both regions have seen a negative trend, but the Midwest hasn't lost as much ground (relative to its past) as the South. Check out the online charts that were posted with my blog.