California’s Manufacturing Renaissance

Ahmed Muneeb
Apr 24, 2018 · 4 min read
Photo by Charlize Birdsinger on Unsplash

California has one of the most powerful economies in the world leading in industries such as high technology, international trade, healthcare, agriculture and energy. According to 2016 data by the World Bank, California is ranked to have the sixth largest economy in the world, standing only behind the entire United States itself, China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The report also highlighted an industry that propelled the state’s growth to surpass the French economy — manufacturing. Manufacturing for generations was always hailed as the gateway and staple to the middle class and any evidence claiming that manufacturing is non-existent are false and there is encouraging data to support it.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) organization, manufacturing in the state of California accounts for 11.1% of the total output for the state — valued at an output of $288.98 Billion in 2016. The report shows key encouraging signs for manufacturing growth in the state, especially for three very important reasons:

1. Total Output Growth

As of 2014, total manufacturing output for the state stood at $255.53 Billion with a surge in 2015 increasing to $278.58 Billion. Furthermore, increasing by an additional $10 Billion throughout 2016.

Source: National Association for Manufacturers, 2016. Rev. Jan 2018.

2. Wage and Employment Growth

What is more encouraging is the wage growth occurring within the overall manufacturing industry. The average annual wage was $92,801 in 2014, growing to $96,711 in 2015.

In 2016, the average annual wage continued its growth within the industry crossing the six-figure mark growing to $100,060 according to NAM data.

3. Manufacturing Firm Growth

The non-profit research organization also highlighted a consistent growth in the amount of manufacturing firms on an annual basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing firms grew from a total of 35,756 as of 2013 to 36,117 as of 2015.

The growth is lead by manufacturing sectors such as high technology, chemical products and the food, beverage and tobacco space.

Source: National Association for Manufacturers, 2016. Rev. Jan 2018.

Manufacturing Suburban Growth

Throughout the spread-out Southern California region, lie inland suburban cities in the Greater Los Angeles basin, where manufacturing is the leader in their respective local economies.

An example of this is the city of Corona positioned just east of the Orange County border and south of the San Bernardino County line. Corona exemplifies how manufacturing has served as a staple for the city, generating newer business growth and attraction that supplement its demographics.

The manufacturing industry leads diverse industries comprising approximately 15–17% of the city’s total employment. With higher wage growth associated with the industry, the city has developed a reputation known for residential properties, affordable family-led housing, strong educational system correlating with a richer economic environment and a more cost-effective alternative to its Orange County counter parts.

With manufacturing serving as the foundation to a city and a region overall, such as Corona, newer businesses and innovation soon become a follower and a major factor to future economic growth.

This serves as an important reminder that manufacturing across the state of California is not dead despite many notions, but retooled and reborn adapting to rapid technological advances leading suburban growth and employment opportunities.


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Ahmed Muneeb

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Writer + Project Manager. Contributor on @thestartup_, @TheAscentPub, @thrive, and @thoughtcatalog. 1.7m + Published writer via @quora.

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