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Manufacturing in California looks up

January 21, 2011 |  2:50 pm

California's unemployment rate ticked up to 12.5% in December, but there were some bright spots. Namely the manufacturing sector, which has expanded against all odds.

According to data released Friday by the Employment Development Department, average weekly hours in manufacturing rose to 41 in December, the highest that number has been since December 2006. Average overtime hours also reached 4.7, the highest number since September 2005.

Pay grew too: Average hourly earnings reached $19.22 in December, the highest wages since at least 2004. The average for 2010 was $18.96. Average weekly earnings reached $788.02 in December, in a year when people in manufacturing made, on average, $683.07 a week.

After pundits and graphic novels bemoaned the nation's shrinking manufacturing base, why are we seeing a rebound? We have Silicon Valley to thank. While manufacturing of nondurable goods (such as foods) continued to shrink in December, durable goods manufacturing grew. Specifically, computer and electronic product manufacturing grew by 2,900 jobs in December.

For more information on California's December employment numbers, check out the full story. For an interactive map of county-by-county unemployment rates, click on the link below.
View full map


Finally, a graphic novel about manufacturing

California's recovery may not mean a robust job market

-- Alana Semuels