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Manufacturing job growth in SD beats forecasts


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Although manufacturing output slid slightly between 2012 and 2013, it still represented nearly 9 percent of the region's gross domestic product, according to a report Tuesday examining the local manufacturing sector by the National University System Institute for Policy Research.
“Manufacturing remains a vitally important part of the San Diego economy,” said Erik Bruvold, the institute's president, who wrote the report.
But Bruvold's report contains some caveats, as well.
Despite its recent hiring spurt, manufacturing employment is still well below the peaks it hit before the recession and its share of the local economy is down sharply from the Cold War, when it represented nearly 13 percent of local output.
Also, thanks to the growing use of robotics on factory floors and the off-shoring of low-skilled work, manufacturing no longer offers the chance for advancement for workers with low skills or little education that it did in the past.
"This isn’t your grandparents' manufacturing sector," Bruvold said, referring to the era that began with World War II and lasted through the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, when factory work on military production lines could help low-skilled workers get relatively healthy paychecks.
Instead, he said, manufacturing today represents "an assortment of industries that place a high premium on skills and sophisticated levels of training," which has both pluses and minuses for the local workforce.