Although California’s industrial sector has been declining for decades and today employs just 8 percent of the state’s workers, it still generates a very large portion of the state’s economic output, a new Census Bureau report indicates.
California had more manufacturing businesses (38,741) than any other state in 2012 and their 1.2 million employees were also the largest industrial workforce of any state, the report says. Those workers produced products valued at $512.3 billion, up 4.3 percent from the previous industrial census in 2007.
That is the equivalent of nearly 25 percent of the state’s overall economic output, which would, were California a nation, rank its economy as the globe’s seventh largest.
Manufacturing leaders have complained that California’s stringent environmental and workplace regulations, its costs of workers’ compensation insurance, its utility rates and its tax structure discourage industrial expansion in the state.
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Over the last few decades, it has seen closures of aerospace plants, canneries, auto assembly factories and other heavy industrial facilities. Most recently, California lost to Nevada in the competition for a massive auto battery factory to be built by Tesla, which is based in California. But also has seen an expansion of technology-related manufacturing, especially in the Silicon Valley.
Computer and electronics comprise the state’s largest industrial subsector with 177,603 workers, the Census Bureau compilation found, but 45 percent of the state’s factories are found in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, accounting for $211.1 billion of overall industrial output.
Texas ranked second to California in the number of factories in 2012 with 19,782, followed by New York with 16,475. Connecticut’s factories paid the nation’s highest average wages, $64,366. California’s average was $59,584, up 21.1 percent from 2007.