California Today: How California Helps the U.S. Economy

California Today: How California Helps the U.S. Economy

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Cargo at the Port of Los Angeles. Technology, trade and tourism have helped propel California’s economy.CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times

Good morning.

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Today’s introduction comes from Conor Dougherty, a reporter based in the Bay Area.

On Friday, the United States recorded its 80th consecutive month of job growth, which is the longest streak on record and has pushed the unemployment rate to 4.3 percent from 10 percent in the depths of the recession. After a long and painful recovery, the nation is nearing full employment — and California has played an outsize role.

Over the last five years, California has outperformed the nation in just about every important economic metric. Yes, the state is big, accounting for about 12 percent of the nation’s population. But its share of economic growth has been even bigger.

California accounted for 17 percent of job growth in the United States from 2012 to 2016, and a quarter of the growth in gross domestic product.

California Leads Job Growth

California’s Share of Jobs
California’s Share of Job Growth

“What these numbers say is that California is crucial to U.S. growth, far beyond what we could expect from our population alone,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

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San Francisco and the Silicon Valley have had a yearslong boom, while the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been at the center of a rebound in container traffic and international trade. Hollywood has done well, too: As cable channels and companies like Netflix and Amazon have ramped up their original programming, Southern California has seen a surge in production jobs.

The downside to all this success is that the state now has quite a lot to lose. With a large immigrant population and a huge port complex, California is at a much greater risk of being hurt by President Trump’s muscular immigration policies and desire to curb imports and tear up trade agreements.