Almost 100 years ago, when the California Manufacturers & Technology Association — now CMTA, then CMA — first opened its doors in 1918, California had 265,000 manufacturing workers with the sector producing $705 million in added value to the state.

A century later, the sector employs 1.3 million high-wage workers and now provides a towering $288 billion in added value.

We probably can’t expect 400 percent increases in manufacturing employment over the next 100 years, but California should at least keep pace with the rest of the country’s industrial growth.

Since the end of the country’s recession in 2010, California has struggled to keep pace with booming national manufacturing growth, including reshored jobs. With 12 percent of the country’s population and the largest manufacturing economy, the state’s manufacturing job growth has lagged far behind the rest of the country. Here’s a chart indicating California’s path to 3.6 percent manufacturing job growth versus the rest of the country’s 9 percent growth:

Some big winners in that same time period include Kentucky at 21.9 percent, Indiana at 20.3 percent, South Carolina at 20.8 percent, Tennessee at 16.2 percent, Colorado at 14.6 percent, and Ohio at 12.0 percent.

There are many reasons for the lag, and not all are controllable, but the less-than-favorable trend is why CMTA is working so hard for cost-effective climate change policies, feasible and flexible labor environmental regulations, competitive state taxes, and workforce development and skills gap funding. California must keep up the drumbeat of policies to attract new manufacturing investment.

Gino DiCaro is president of the CMTA Service Corporation, California Manufacturers & Technology Association. Reach him at