Home to 23,000 manufacturers and more than a million industrial workers, California is the largest manufacturing state in the U.S. The state’s abundance of skilled labor and access to capital has drawn some key innovative enterprises to its borders, particularly in the aerospace and electronics industries.
Today we’re focusing on the latest trends in California manufacturing, including the state’s top industries and cities, and we’ll also explore its ten largest manufacturing companies.
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According to data collected by MNI, compiler of the industrial information that powers IndustrySelect, California is currently home to 23,078 manufacturers employing 1,385,974 workers. These include some powerful companies, which we will detail in a moment. But first, here are some key statistics on the state’s industrial sector based on MNI’s survey of California manufacturers.
According to MNI, San Diego is California’s top city for number of manufacturing jobs, with 66,672 workers. A major industrial city, San Diego ranks #5 in the nation for cities with the most manufacturing jobs.
Read more: Top Manufacturing Cities in the U.S.
Other top cities in California include
• San Jose (55,507 jobs)
• Los Angeles (53,342 jobs)
• Irvine (42,752 jobs)
• Santa Clara (29,692 jobs)
Los Angeles County is California’s largest in terms of industrial jobs, home to 453,116 workers. This is followed by Santa Clara (215,748), Orange (210,771), San Diego (140,209) and Alameda (89,187).
Taking a look at the state’s top industries, electronics manufacturing is the state’s top industry, accounting for 17% of California’s manufacturing employment. This is followed by food & kindred products with 13% of the state’s industrial workers and industrial machinery with 12%.
Instruments and related products ranks as California’s fourth-largest industry in terms of employment, with 9% of the state’s industrial workforce and transportation equipment ranks fifth with 8%.
According to IndustrySelect database of 460,000 U.S. industrial companies, there are 77,209 executive contacts among California manufacturing companies, including 12,031 presidents, 6,736 owners and partners; 6,745 vice-presidents and 6,572 sales, marketing and purchasing executives.
Other facts to know about California manufacturers, based on IndustrySelect’s advanced criteria available to subscribers, include ownership, distribution and other trends:
• 2% of California manufacturers are women-owned
• 2% are minority-owned
• 9% are publicly-owned companies
• 12% import raw materials
• 31% distribute their products internationally
Next, we’ll take a look at the state’s top companies
|Northrop Grumman Aerospace International, Inc.||10,000||Redondo Beach||CA|
|Tesla Motors, Inc.||10,000||Fremont||CA|
|General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.||9,000||Poway||CA|
|Chevron Corp.||8,000||San Ramon||CA|
|Raytheon Co.||7,302||El Segundo||CA|
|Jet Propulsion Laboratory||6,000||Pasadena||CA|
|Amgen, Inc.||5,500||Thousand Oaks||CA|
|Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.||5,500||Sunnyvale||CA|
|QUALCOMM, Inc.||5,279||San Diego||CA|
1. Northrop Grumman Aerospace International, Inc. (Rendondo Beach, CA)
Headquartered in West Falls Church, VA, Northrop Grumman is a major aerospace and defense company, established in 1979. Home to 10,000 employees, the company’s Rendondo Beach location serves as its divisional headquarters for its microelectronics products and services and is also home to advanced semiconductor foundry.
2. Tesla Motors. (Fremont, CA)
Founded in 2003 by martin Eberhard with the mission to create “a car manufacturer that is also a technology company “electronic vehicle giant Tesla Motors now employs 10,000 workers at its massive 5.3 million square feet Fremont factory where it produces the Tesla Model S, Model X and Model 3 at its Fremont location.
3. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (Poway, CA)
Powerful defense contractor General Atomics is California’s third largest manuaufacturing company, home to 9,000 workers. The company engineers, resesarches and develops unmanned aircraft and sensor systems, including remotely-piloted aircraft systems, radars and electro-optic & related mission systems accessories. Its Poway location is one of two California facilities, the other in San Diego that focuses on nuclear instrumentation.
4. Chevron Corp (San Ramon, CA)
Chevron began its long journey in 1879, when a band of merchants and explorers founded the Pacific Coast Oil Co in San Francisco, spurred by the gold rush. The company went on to become Chevron, among the world’s largest oil companies, with 44,679 employees globally. 8,000 of these workers call the San Ramon location home, which serves as the company’s headquarters.
5. Raytheon Co. (El Segundo, CA)
With 195,000 employees worldwide, Raytheon is among the world largest aerospace and defense companies, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. The company’s El Segundo location engineers and develops defense electronics, including space and airborne systems. recently made the news in August 2020 when it announced plans to hire more than 300 new workers at the El Segundo location. It is currently California’s sixth-largest industrial company with 7,302 workers.
6. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA)
Among California’s most fascinating companies, the Jet Propulsion Lab is a NASA-run center for robotic exploration of planetary systems, partnered with the California Institute of Technology.
7. Amgen, Inc. (Thousand Oaks, CA)
Founded in 1980, Amgen is among the world’s top biotechnology companies, specializing in pharmaceuticals, research and biomanufacturing. The company’s Thousand Oaks location serves as it headquarters and focuses on recombinant protein pharmaceuticals. Home to 5,500 employees, it is California’s fourth-largest industrial company.
8. Lockheed Martin Space Systems (Sunnyvale, CA)
Rounding out our top ten list, Lockheed Martin ranks as California 10th largest industrial employer, accounting for 5,500 jobs in Sunnyvale specializing in space & missiles telecommunications, including equipment and parts.
9. Intel Corp (Folsom, CA)
Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, Intel is among the world’s largest technology companies, specializing in microprocessors. The company’s Folsom specializes in semiconductor devices, computer chips and flash memory boards, employing 5,300.
10. QUALCOMM, INC. (San Diego, CA)
Rounding out our top 10 list is QUALCOMM, INC. QUALCOMM is a U.S-based multinational semiconductor manufacturer that produces chips, software, and services for wireless devices. Employing 5,279 workers, their San Diego location functions as the company’s headquarters.
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December 2020. It has been updated to reflect 2023 statistics on California manufacturing.