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California: News and Insight on Business in the Golden

State Leads Nation in Manufacturing Jobs, U.S. Says


California employs nearly 2 million people in manufacturing jobs, almost twice the number of any other state.

Those findings, to be released in a U.S. Census Bureau study today, underscore the fact that "making it" in California applies to a lot more than Hollywood.

Despite a harrowing recession earlier this decade, heavy regulation and an exodus of thousands of high-paying aerospace jobs, the state remains the nation's undisputed manufacturing champ.

"People think that all we do is make movies here," said Jack Kyser, chief economist with the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles. "But manufacturing is alive and well in California."

The Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufacturers shows that more than 1.9 million people were employed in manufacturing jobs here in 1996, accounting for 10.4% of all manufacturing employment nationwide.

Growth was modest, as California added only about 15,000 manufacturing jobs in 1996, an increase of less than 1% over 1995. Still, the state boasts nearly twice as many manufacturing workers as runner-up Ohio, a Rust Belt powerhouse that tallied just over 1 million manufacturing jobs in 1996.

Electronic equipment--an industry classification that includes everything from computers to refrigerators and components--was the state's largest manufacturing employer, with more than 263,000 workers in 1996.

Industrial machinery, another catch-all that encompasses such things as farm equipment, construction machinery and metalworking machines, was the second-largest segment, employing 191,000. Apparel, food, publishing and transportation equipment also are big employers.

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