California manufacturers are writing the next chapter in a storied century that's already, in 20 short years, been a blockbuster tale of bust to boom to high anxiety.
Consider a recent report that documents "that since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, to 2018, the Golden State lost 654,100 jobs to the Asian nation, about double the next highest state loss, Texas' 334,800 jobs."
It's a staggering number, but consider that in the same period, total manufacturing employment in California fell from 1,779,000 to 1,320,000, or about 459,000 jobs. California lost more manufacturing jobs to China than it did total jobs during the same period.
That's largely because California manufacturing has made a comeback, adding manufacturing jobs every year this decade save one after bottoming out in 2010, with net job growth of 1.16 percent the past five years, 1 percent three-year, and 1.27 percent one-year (ending 2018; 2019 final numbers are forecast to remain flat). Today, manufacturing totals 1.32 million jobs in the state.
But as we report every week, manufacturing ebbs and flows through 20+ industries.
Here's how manufacturing employment data looks over the past 10 years, by industry, ranked by growth (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics):
Employment in only five of 21 industries showed net gains the past 10 years -- and it's modest growth at that:
Growth picked up as the decade progressed. Here's an industry breakdown with a focus on five-year employment trends:
And here are the numbers sorted by year-over-year growth, 2017 to 2018. Growth industries outnumbering laggards as the decade begins:
Yet the new decade is already notable for a significant headwind that many believe have stopped the manufacturing comeback in its tracks. The tariff war, by objective measurements, has hit manufacturing hard. Quarterly data points to net job losses in the U.S. for the first time in eight years.
California will add manufacturing jobs for the ninth year in the past 10. But the more compelling takeaway from a decade of employment data, is the emergence of a powerful new industry mix reshaping California manufacturing. And despite the pervasive gloom that again seems to have descended on U.S. manufacturing, the mix here and in other states seems poised to drive more growth across America's domestic manufacturing footprint.
Consider the big growth industries:
In sum, California is well-positioned for growth in the industries that promise to reshape U.S. manufacturing; to capture a higher percentage of the domestic jobs that do materialize in the 2020's. For every job lost in apparel manufacturing, others are materializing across the region. Will they materialize here? .
Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.