Manufacturing Exports Up; Employment, Not So Much

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What are we looking at here? (Credit: KQED/Myrow)

How it is that California's exports of manufactured goods surged 20.1 percent in July compared to last year .... but California manufacturers still aren't hiring in big numbers?

A few weeks back, the Sacramento Bee explored the questions that come up when you look at a recent report like the one from Beacon Economics, an independent economic research firm, that found California's manufacturing output grew 90 percent between 1997 and 2007, compared with 35 percent in the nation overall.

Hunh, said the Bee's Darrell Smith.

There are 250,000 fewer manufacturing workers statewide than there were three years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in San Francisco.

What are we exporting? Computers and electronic products, transportation equipment, machinery and chemicals, including pharmaceuticals. "We've lost a lot of manufacturing jobs, but a lot less than in other states," Beacon Economics' Thornberg said. "California (manufacturing) is weathering the storm better than the nation overall."

So, leaving aside the productivity gains from advancing technology, where are the jobs? A study released in September by the Public Policy Institute of California blames business closures and downsizing – not moves to other states – for most of the job losses.

"Only a small fraction of the state's job losses are due to businesses leaving the state," concluded the report, which tracked employment changes and business relocation from 1992 through 2006.

p.s.  Did you guess the subject of the picture above? Here it is.  The way I see it, it does feel like we are "immersed in the midst of a cataclysmic force of nature", even though, admittedly, the global economy is a man-made thing.

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About Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers politics, economics, technology, food and culture in a vast region extending from Burlingame to Edenvale to Fremont. This follows more than seven years waking at 3 am to host the daily version of KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state during NPR's Morning Edition. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, blogs for Bay Area Bites, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked for Marketplace and KPCC in Los Angeles. Follow @rachaelmyrow

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