Manufacturing 2.0:
A More Prosperous California

Jun 01, 2009

Ross DeVol, Perry Wong, Armen Bedroussian, Candice Flor Hynek and David Rice

California is losing a battle with other states to retain and attract manufacturing jobs, a critical economic growth engine of California's past and future that is often overlooked by residents and policy makers.

According to the report, California had 21 percent fewer manufacturing jobs in 2007 than in 2000, compared with a decline of 20 percent nationally and 13 percent among seven states that are competing for the same types of manufacturing jobs.

The report compares California's performance and policies to those of seven peer states - Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas and Washington - chosen for their increasing share of U.S. manufacturing jobs and production, especially in high-tech manufacturing. The report looks at the time period of 2000-2007, the latest data available at the time of the research.

Driving the decline, the report says, are a reputation for an unfriendly business climate, comparatively high tax rates, a restrictive regulatory climate and unsustainable government spending.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • Streamlining the regulatory procedure for manufacturers, without relaxing or changing regulatory standards, to increase transparency and accountability in the regulatory process.
  • Enhancing public incentives through better planning, coordination across government agencies, and partnering with the private sector.
  • Launching an industry-led campaign to encourage Californians to pursue careers in the highly technical and highly paid manufacturing field.
  • Creating a network of education, training, research, and business incubation centers around the state.
  • Developing a public-private initiative to conduct research and develop new manufacturing processes that are cleaner, more energy efficient, and generate less waste.

The report examines the consequences - lost wages, jobs, tax revenue and economic ripple effects - of the state's inaction to curb the decline and describe what the seven selected states have done to retain more employment and even grow their manufacturing sectors. As the report notes, these states are increasing their competitiveness through work force development, enhancing their business climates, increasing access to capital and investing in innovation.

The report follows up on a previous analysis of California's manufacturing economy, Manufacturing Matters, released in 2002, that chronicled the state's dependence on and decline in manufacturing and made recommendations to staunch the flow of jobs to other countries and other states.

The report was sponsored, in part, by the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.