Manufacturing should be a dynamic part of the Inland Empire’s economy given its large population of potential workers with 47.4% of area adults having high school or less educations and needing jobs that will get them to the middle class. Also, its cost of labor is somewhat lower than Southern California’s coastal counties and its space costs are substantially lower. That said, even though the U.S. created 530,000 manufacturing jobs from January 2010 to April 2013, California lost 500 despite having the largest manufacturing base in the U.S. The Inland Empire this year has seen a net loss of 175 jobs from the first four months of 2013 vs. 2012.
The difficulty arises because air quality requirements from EPA threaten to shutdown Southern California’s economy if the South Coast Air Quality Management District does not reach targets which have become nearly impossible to reach. This is the case as the unique climatic pattern of Southern California holds air inside a bubble during certain wind and heat patterns. Even some regulators are beginning to admit that they are being held to standards that are approaching conditions that would exist if there were no people and no economy in Southern California. That because of the region’s desert area sends hot air over the top of ambient air in the region’s basin, causing it to represent a sealed container. Meanwhile, dust flying in from the deserts adds to PM2.5 difficulties. The result has been continual changes in requirements that have led to such an unstable regulatory environment that manufacturers with a choice are putting their growth in units outside Southern California; firms not in the market have virtually no interest in entering it; and firms that go from being entrepreneurial managed to professionally managed start relocating.
Magnifying the issue is the fact that local regulators have no ability to control the major mobile sources of pollution as they are federally controlled. These include ships, trains and planes.
The Inland Empire Economic Partnership Supports:
• Legislation promoting research to show the actions of EPA have put SCAQMD in a place where they are taking actions that are stopping job growth in manufacturing. The research should look at the fact that this is cutting off a route to the middle class for the Inland Empire’s poorly educated workers, given that 47.4 percent of Inland adults have only a high school diploma or less, and that applies to 66.7 percent of Inland Hispanic adults. This is creating public health and social justice issues
• Pressure to be applied to the EPA to allow for regionally specific standards for Southern California given that air quality metrics in the area are often caused by mobile sources over which the region has no control