Aerospace Industry Shows Rapid Growth in Southern California

Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry in Southern California is growing by leaps and bounds according to a new report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. Since 2004, employment in the aerospace sector has risen 62%. Economists estimate that more than 100,000 people in Southern California are directly employed by the aerospace industry. An additional 100,000 work in jobs that depend on the manufacturing of planes, spacecraft and missiles. These workers are also well compensated for their efforts. The average aerospace worker makes more than $100,000 a year, far more than the $56,600 that average Californians bring home annually. Employees working for guided missile manufacturers and in spacecraft production have seen the greatest salary increase. Since 2004, wages in these sectors have risen by 24%.

This new aerospace boom comes on the heels of a slump in the California aerospace industry. In the past, the area was an important hub for plane production, but that quickly changed as aircraft companies scaled back on production. In 2015, Boeing shuttered their huge airplane manufacturing facility in Long Beach after 75 years in business. In its heyday during World War II, the plant employed over 45,000 people. By the time it closed, the plant directly employed about 2,000 people.

However, as airplane assembly was scaled back in Southern California, companies making spacecraft and missiles began to increase their presence. The rapid growth of aerospace manufacturer SpaceX has given a shot in the arm to the region's economy. Around 7,000 employees work at the company's large headquarters in Hawthorne, most of them in engineering and production. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman has hired 1,000 workers in Palmdale to construct the new B-21 Raider for the U.S. Air Force. Other aerospace jobs have been added thanks to new projects at the Boeing Satellite Systems headquarters in El Segundo; the factory manufactures satellites for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

Southern California is not the only region in the United States experiencing a boost from the aerospace industry. Aerospace companies in Alabama recently announced that they hope to add 2,200 new jobs to the state's workforce in the near future. Low labor costs have also lured many companies to North Carolina where the number of workers employed in the aerospace sector has risen by more than 15% in the past two years. Additionally, Raytheon Missile Systems recently unveiled a major expansion project that will create 2,000 new jobs in the state of Arizona.