The Twin Cities Region and Other Hotspots for the Medical Device Cluster

Published on Aug 20, 2015

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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On July 1, the Smithsonian opened an exhibit featuring medical innovations in Minnesota’s famous Medical Alley, a region encompassing Minneapolis-St. Paul and 40 miles south to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and home to hundreds of healthcare organizations and medical device companies. (See the online exhibit.)

A key economic player in Medical Alley is the medical device cluster—a group of eight industries that deal directly with medical devices (as defined by Greater MSP). Over 3% of the gross regional product comes from these industries that pump $7.1 billion into the local economy annually:

  • Electromedical & electrotherapeutic apparatus manufacturing (NAICS 334510)

  • Analytical laboratory instruments manufacturing (NAICS 334516)

  • Irradiation apparatus manufacturing (NAICS 334517)

  • Surgical & medical instrument manufacturing (NAICS 339112)

  • Surgical appliance & supplies manufacturing (NAICS 339113)

  • Dental equipment & supplies manufacturing (NAICS 339114)

  • Ophthalmic goods manufacturing (NAICS 339115)

  • Dental laboratories (NAICS 339116)

Nationally, the medical device cluster makes up 411,900 jobs with average annual earnings of $97,677. The largest industry within the cluster is surgical and medical instrument manufacturing, which alone makes up 118,419 of those jobs. What sorts of occupations are we talking about? A lot of production jobs: Team assemblers; dental laboratory technicians; inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers; electrical & electronic equipment assemblers; machinists; and the like make up over 40% of all jobs in the sector.

But let’s explore a larger map. Medical Alley isn’t the only hotspot for the medical device cluster. The following infographic ranks the top 10 US metropolitan areas according to greatest number of medical device-related jobs. (Naturally, the region covering Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington-Rochester takes the lead.)

A few big-picture observations:

  • Medical Alley has by far the highest number of jobs: over 27,000 in 2014. It’s a pretty steep drop-off to New York (17,828) and Boston (16,878), the next two largest. And it is nearly four times the number as Dallas (7,391), which ranks 10th in the nation.

  • Surgical & medical instrument manufacturing is the largest industry in every city except Medical Alley, New York, and Dallas.

  • Analytical laboratory instrument manufacturing is the most concentrated industry in four MSAs: San Jose (10.05 LQ), Boston (8.11), San Francisco (4.88), and Philadelphia (2.05). (Concentration is measured by location quotient; the national average is 1.0.)

  • Salt Lake City stands out for a few reasons. It has the highest concentration of medical device jobs (4.63) after Medical Alley (4.79). It also boasts the highest concentration for any of the industries inside the cluster; here, irradiation apparatus manufacturing has a stunning location quotient of 21.96. Finally, while medical device jobs elsewhere typically comprise well under 1% of total regional jobs, in Salt Lake City they make up 1.3%—just under Medical Alley’s 1.4%.

  • San Francisco has the highest average annual earnings per job ($151,012)—not surprisingly since wages reflect (among other factors) the cost of living.

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