Last week, thousands of MFG Day events were held across the country to celebrate modern manufacturing. In San Diego, more than 50 companies participated in events – from facility tours to regional resource fairs – to showcase a wide range of job opportunities. This included a private tour of Samsung’s maquiladora in Tijuana, which employs upwards of 6,000 workers, alongside Rep. Susan Davis and more than 20 EDC partners. Fun fact: San Diego’s MFG day is one of the only bi-national celebrations in the country. The week culminated at EDC’s annual breakfast event, attended by more than 200 local business and civic leaders.
The goal of MFG day is to change public perception of the sector, and introduce people to manufacturing careers. Even though San Diego has a smaller concentration of manufacturing employment than the national average, the region is home to nearly 110,000 manufacturing jobs, spread across more than 300 industries1. These are not just team assembler and machinist roles; there are hundreds of unique occupations from finance to marketing to engineering. And these are good paying jobs. In 2016, the average annual salary exceeded $79,000 in San Diego2.
Dismissiveness toward manufacturing comes from a track record of employment declines that began well before the Great Recession, in large part due to increases in automation. However, with a focus on advanced manufacturing, San Diego has fared much better. Since 2007, when the recession began, manufacturing employment declined 11.2 percent nationwide. During that same time, manufacturing in San Diego grew 3.2 percent, adding more than 3,400 jobs3.
This is because manufacturing in San Diego is driven by the innovation economy that makes aircrafts, medical equipment and semiconductors. Of course, there are also apparel makers, plastic producers and world-famous breweries. But the top eight manufacturing industries, accounting for more than 61,000 manufacturing jobs, are all in advanced industries such as aerospace and biotech4.
Strategic development of San Diego’s defense and life science clusters, as well as the strong partnership with Baja California, has helped the region’s manufacturing sector remain relevant and competitive.