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Weintraub ignores California’s silver bullet: jobs plan and manufacturing

Gino DiCaro
Vice President of Communications for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association

Last week the well-regarded Daniel Weintraub wrote an accurate but complacency-inducing everything-will-be-ok Orange County Register article based on 2010 job data. 

He emphasized that California’s job growth, sans the construction and government industries, trended with the rest of the country.  Weintraub looked backward, saw some non-momentous trends either way and concluded that the job "numbers bode well for the state’s economic future."

California’s problems are so big, we can’t afford to wait and hope for a large recovery to come our way.

When you’re broke and you need to get un-broke, do you look backward, do nothing and wait, or start making good decisions for what lies ahead?  You unquestionably start preparing a plan for the future.  This is where we must start.

Quick lesson on California manufacturing:  Average wage is $69k.  Average multiplier effect is 2.5 jobs for every one job.  Average employee benefits are far higher than other sectors.  The economic upside is enormous. It must play a significant role in our future.  Unfortunately California per capita manufacturing growth is currently dead last in the country.

In his piece, Weintraub neglected the strategic actions needed to launch grand-scale economic growth in California.  To be fair, he didn’t say we should expect better-than-national-average growth, but simply lagging the national recovery is not enough.  We’ll need a much larger boom than the majority of the country, given our 2 million unemployed, a $20 billion deficit and our Charlie Sheen level cost of living.

Weintraub does not mention the manufacturing industry or California’s jaw-dropping lack of a jobs plan.   In fact he mentions California’s tremendous proclivity for venture capital, but ignores that it translates into very little new manufacturing.  For example, California received 48 percent of the nation’s venture capital from 2005 to 2009, but received only one percent of the country’s new manufacturing investment.  It’s also worth noting that, of the growing non-manufacturing industries in 2010, the average wage was a whopping $15k less than manufacturing salaries.

California lawmakers proclaim that they are pro-jobs and they get by on words over action because they can.  Articles like Weintraub’s help provide cover for their auto-pilot mentality.

We need action that includes a strategy with tactics to grow the industries with the highest wages and the highest employment multipliers.  Ergo, manufacturing.  Everyone wins! 

According to an ongoing survey by CMTA and many other industries, 85% of California businesses say they would not locate a business here if they were not already in the state.  A large majority of those respondents (and all the manufacturers) listed the possibility of future regulations as a barrier to growth. 

(quick note to the Business Journals and writers: we have 500 responding businesses to the survey, we need thousands more. Ask your readers to respond)

Today, the Assembly Business and Professions committee takes up 10 important bills to analyze and oversee regulations for their impacts on our economy.   These are forward thinking no-brainers, much like the 25 or so bills that died last year.  If California had a plan and a goal to grow our economy — one that the legislature was accountable to — many of these bills would be literal silver bullets.  Instead the back and forth over mind numbing we’re-not-that-bad data points potentially paves the same ol’ path toward economy-killing complacency. 

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