Orange County Business Journal

Irvine Continues Gains as Industrial Center

Jane Yu Saturday, February 2, 2013

“There are so many residential homes going up right now,” Choi said. “Why are developers building right now? Because there is demand. We’re growing our residential component. We can provide all the homes for this growing work force.”

Choi pointed to the Irvine Spectrum on the city’s eastern edge and the Irvine Business Complex near John Wayne Airport as employment centers that have grown amid residential developments and amenities.

“Many businesses see this as a job center and an entertainment center, and at the same time it’s a serene surrounding for families,” Choi said.

The top five industrial cities in the U.S. remained the same on the latest list from Manufacturers’ News, which counts jobs within the cities’ limits.

Houston is the biggest center of industrial employment among U.S. cities, with 242,212 such positions after a 3.1% growth over the past year. It’s far ahead of the second-largest, New York, which has 146,340 industrial jobs after a 3.8% increase.

Numbers for Chicago (107,413) and St. Louis (81,119) were about flat.

No. 5 Los Angeles saw a 3.2% drop in the number of industrial jobs to 77,325. It lost more than 2,500 such employees, the third-largest decline by headcount and fourth-largest drop by percentage.

The top five cities account for nearly 6% of the overall U.S. manufacturing industry, which has about 12 million workers nationwide, according to federal data—approximately 8% of jobs nationwide.

Among the cities that saw strong gains on industrial jobs last year was Austin, Texas, which saw a 10% increase to 46,895. That moved the city up two spots to No. 24.

A couple of traditional centers of manufacturing also did well.

Manufacturing companies in Grand Rapids, Mich., hired more than 2,900 workers last year, for a 7.4% increase and a five-spot jump to No. 29.

Pittsburgh, a hub for steel production and coal mining, also gained 2,354 workers in the sector and marked a 6.9% increase. It remained at No. 38 with a total of 36,662 jobs in the sector, which account for 19% of the total work force in the city.

Drop in Dallas

The city with the largest falloff in industrial employment was Dallas. It lost more than 3,400 workers in the sector last year to 72,519. It’s now ranked the ninth-largest industrial city, down from No. 7 a year earlier.

Detroit moved up one spot to No. 44 despite a 1% cutback in industrial employment to nearly 32,000.

No. 50 Tampa, Fla., was a new addition to the group of America’s largest industrial centers, with 28,512 industrial jobs. It displaced Richmond, Va., which had 29,490 such jobs a year ago.

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