Last week Dan Walters wrote a piece depicting the enormity of California’s manufacturing sector, using a recent 2012 Census Bureau report, which prompted tweets like the following:
Stockton Buzz (@stocktonbuzz) California leads U.S. in manufacturing jobs centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?I… #stockton #lodi #los angeles #jobs #manufacturing census via @cvbtnews
California is the most populous state in the country. The fact that we have the most manufacturing is not a surprise. The fact that we aren’t growing as fast as the rest of the country is a surprise and a problem.
We are still hovering around one percent manufacturing job growth since the recession, while the rest of the U.S. is close to 7 percent growth. In 2013, we had only 1.5 percent of the country’s manufacturing investments. With a state that has about 11 percent of the U.S. population, we must attract more manufacturing.
If we want to be a model for the rest of the country we need a growing number of innovative and energy efficient manufacturers to scale up in California and create middle class jobs. At the very least, we need to attract manufacturing at the same rate as the rest of the country. It’s not just Texas either. States like Indiana grew their manufacturing job base by 19 percent since the recession.
Things have improved no doubt. The Go-BIZ team recently touted 56 new investments (many of whom are manufacturers) as a result of Governor Brown’s “California Competes” incentives. We’ve also seen an uptick in overall manufacturing investments in 2014. We won’t know the final numbers for another month, which we will publish here, but California appears to be moving in the right direction. However there is so much work to do to catch up to the rest of the country.
Walters and others are correct to tout our state’s large manufacturing industry but our manufacturing size does not equate to the rest of the country’s recent growth. With wage inequality growing in California, it is even more important that California re-doubles its efforts to help manufacturers compete and invest and grow the largest manufacturing state in the country.