Manufacturing Jobs Fleeing SoCal: Study Says It’s a Myth

By City News Service

Southern California boasts more manufacturing than any other region in the United States, which remains the world’s largest manufacturing economy, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.’s study, “Manufacturing: Still a Force in Southern California,” concludes that it is a myth that manufacturing is disappearing from the region and that all operations are moving to countries with low-cost labor.

“Industrial restructuring has intensified, making U.S. manufacturing more competitive than ever,” said LAEDC Chief Economist Nancy D. Sidhu, the report’s author. “The U.S. share of global manufacturing has remained at or above 20 percent for most of the past two decades.”

The United States is the world’s largest manufacturing economy, generating $1.6 trillion of output, 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Productivity in the sector is also very high, with manufacturing jobs often paying premium wages and benefits, the LAEDC reports.

In Los Angeles County, manufacturing employed 389,300 people in 2009 and the value of manufacturing shipments in the county was $153 billion in 2007, the last year for which data was available.

Manufacturing is what the economic development group calls a “high-multiplier” activity because it creates jobs for suppliers and other local businesses in areas like energy, freight transportation and business and professional services.

The top five industries in the county, based on 2007 dollar revenues, were petroleum refining, computer and electronic products, food products, aerospace and fabricated metal products. Fifty-six percent of the county’s manufacturing workers produced durable goods, such as computers, transportation equipment and metal products. The other 44 percent made non-durable goods like apparel and food.

The largest industry is computer and electronic products, with 51,323 jobs, though the sector has also suffered some of the largest declines in employment over the past

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March 10, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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