Four California Job Industries Taking a Downward Turn

Depending on who is asked, California’s job market is either one of the best in the United States or it is on the verge of collapse. Even labor experts have a hard time agreeing on whether the job market is growing in California. Part of the confusion comes from how many different businesses operate in the state. It is possible for unemployment to significantly decrease in California, while at the same time companies are going out of business. For many, the California job market can be extremely lucrative, but there are several job industries that should be avoided because they are on a steady decline.

Manufacturing Jobs in California

In the past, California was well known for manufacturing jobs. Although California is still responsible for 11 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the U.S. it has decreased over the last two decades, but not across all sectors. As a whole, not all manufacturing jobs are in danger. In fact, many smaller manufacturing businesses are doing well, such as small companies that make ethnic foods. Larger manufacturing industries, such as companies that produce frozen food, are moving away from California.

A large part of the reason for larger manufacturing companies moving away from California has to do with business regulations. Larger companies face less regulations in many of the nearby states, such as Nevada and Texas. Less regulations ultimately help save the company money. For larger businesses especially, these savings can be quite significant. Another growing problem is that many manufacturing jobs in California are now performed by machines, instead of actual workers.

Job applicants are still able to find manufacturing jobs in California, but it can be a very fierce marketplace, since there are only so many businesses willing to hire new employees. Most of businesses hiring are small companies, which ultimately limits how many job openings are posted.

One exception is medical companies, which still see a great deal of business in California. Both Orange County and San Diego are huge medical hubs, so even with higher operating costs it is still worthwhile for large medical manufacturers to stay in California. Recently, aerospace industries have increased their manufacturing capabilities, but experts still suggest that it has yet to be determined as to whether the aerospace industry will be able to sustain the recent uptick in production.


Opening a business in California is very risky. Similar to manufacturing jobs, part of the difficulty comes from how many regulations California has. It can sometimes take upwards of two years for a business to open in California because the business owner is forced to work around all the state labor laws. In addition, new businesses have to pay exceptionally high electricity prices in California. The California Environmental Quality Act also hurts many new businesses. While the law is very important for preserving the environment, it ultimately means that new businesses are forced to spend even more money to ensure they meet the necessary environmental standards for the state.

One of the reasons why freelance work is so prominent in California is because of regulations. Freelancers are essentially able to enjoy many of the same benefits as someone starting his or her business, but freelancers do not have to worry about regulations. Of course, this only works for certain jobs, most notably tech related jobs. There are many high paid freelancers who could easily land a job with a major business, but they prefer to remain independent to avoid stricter regulations.

Agriculture and Food Processing

Both agriculture and food processing jobs have steadily been declining in California. While California is known for having luxurious weather, it is also known for long droughts. Unfortunately for anyone interested in agriculture, most of the profitable crops require water to grow. Because less food is being grown in California, food processing jobs have ultimately been on a steady decline. There are some agricultural industries that do well even with the droughts, but these jobs are too limited to be considered reliable.


At first it might seem like the semiconductor industry would be booming in California, due to all the tech companies. However, creating semiconductors requires polishing the surface of silicon blanks, which are then used for chips in various electronic devices. Polishing silicon requires a great deal of water, with some semiconductor fabrication plants having the same water output as a small city. In a state known for heavy droughts, semiconductor production is simply too expensive. While some companies can get by with less water, they ultimately operate much smaller businesses, meaning there are very few job openings available.

Residents living in California and those who are considering a move to the state should not become disheartened by employment prospects. Certain parts of the state, as well as certain industries are doing very well. As with many states, the economy has taken a while to recover, with some industries lapsing behind others. Knowing which industries to avoid, which are risky and which hold greater promise for employment and longevity is the key to living and working in California.