Brown Wrong on Factory Job Loss Rate

FEB. 2, 2012


California Gov. Jerry Brown may have met his moment of infamy on a Feb 1 TV show.  He said, “California is losing manufacturing jobs at a rate no faster than the rest of the country.”

Brown’s claim is not backed up by data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  California lost manufacturing jobs at a higher rate than competing states.  Here are the percentage and absolute number of manufacturing job losses in competing states over the last decade:

Manufacturing Job Losses in Competing States

State Percent Job Losses
Percent Difference Than California Total M’fing. Job Losses
Nevada – 18 + 15 -6,400
Texas – 23 + 10 -188,300
Oregon – 26 +   7 -43,300
Arizona – 28 +   5 -42,100
California – 33      0 -411,300
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

California lost 15 percentage points more manufacturing jobs than Nevada and 10 percentage points more than Texas.  More significantly, California lost 411,300 manufacturing jobs over the decade.  That is more than the 280,100 for Nevada, Texas, Oregon and Arizona combined.

Brown continued, “This is the place where Facebook started, where Hewlett-Packard started, where Steve Jobs built Apple Computer just a few miles from where we’re sitting. This is a place of innovation.”

But Apple and Hewlett Packard are companies that have out-sourced almost all their computer component manufacturing to China. In the 1970s, Jobs and his Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak scrounged parts for their early computers from the leftovers of HP and other manufacturing giants. They couldn’t do that nowadays unless they moved to China.

And Facebook wasn’t “started” in California. It was started at Harvard University. It only moved out here later because founder Mark Zuckerberg wanted to live and work among the top companies and geniuses of his industry. Hasn’t Brown seen “The Social Network“?

Facebook IPO

Brown mentioned Facebook because its IPO is expected to net a $500 million tax windfall for California’s coffers. But to be prosperous, a state needs to produce more than high-tech jobs for people with high IQs.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “Nobody is qualified to become a statesman who is entirely ignorant of the problems of wheat.”

One might say that California’s politicians cannot be ignorant of the problems of manufacturing and claim to be qualified to find solutions to unemployment.

With the value of the dollar diluted by Federal Reserve policy, California could re-capture some industries from overseas.  But what is Gov. Brown doing to bring this about?

He continues to back the Bullet Train to Nowhere. And he’s implementing AB 32, the jobs-killing Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Curiously, the program Brown appeared on, “The War Room,” is hosted by Jennifer Granholm, the former Michigan governor. During her time in office, her policies emptied the Great Lake State of manufacturing jobs, as Chrysler and GM went bankrupt. No wonder she didn’t press Brown on his anti-manufacturing policies.

When it comes to manufacturing, California needs leadership, not a smooth TV conversationalist who claims to model his policies on the ancient Greek ruler Aristides.


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