The Evolution of California Manufacturing

Publication Date: October 2001

Publisher: Public Policy Institute of California

Author(s): Paul W. Rhode

Research Area: Manufacturing and industry

Type: Report

Coverage: California


A remote outpost in 1840, California is now the leading industrial state with a Gross Domestic Product that would place it among the world’s largest national economies. In The Evolution of California Manufacturing, Paul Rhode uses a unique and comprehensive time series data set to map the state’s industrial development from the Gold Rush to 1997. After identifying six long-run processes that help account for the state’s emergence as an industrial leader, the study tracks recent trends in California manufacturing. It notes that many recent developments—including energy shortages, military cutbacks, and employment volatility—have occurred periodically throughout California’s history, and that the 1990s was not a period of especially rapid structural change.