An employee works on a rocket engine at the SpaceX factory in Hawthorne. Courtesy SpaceX

From General Atomics in Poway to SpaceX in Hawthorne and Northrop Grumman‘s new B-21 bomber to be built in Palmdale, the aerospace industry in Southern California supports nearly 250,000 jobs.

That was the conclusion of a report released Tuesday the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. in partnership with San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.

The study found that deep ecosystems of aerospace talent, an active defense sector, leading R&D capabilities and a culture of entrepreneurship combine to make Southern California an ideal location for the aerospace industry.

“The California aerospace industry is world-renowned, and its vast impact on our local, state and national economies continues to grow. As chair of the Senate Select Committee on Defense and Aerospace, I look forward to continuing to work for policies that advance aerospace into the future,” said state Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller of Bakersfield.

Key findings from the study include:

  • The aerospace industry directly employed 85,500 in Southern California in 2014
  • The total rises to over 100,000 when the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA and other public agencies are included
  • Aerospace employees are among the highest paid in Southern California, making on average $105,715 per year
  • Those high-wage employees support other workers, producing a total impact of 245,770 jobs
  • Jobs in guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing have grown by more than 64 percent since 2004
  • 41 percent  of job openings over the next five years will require a bachelor’s degree or higher

“We all know that our region has unmatched talent, a deep ecosystem of aerospace suppliers, specialized service providers, and IP, and now this report provides numbers and data to back that up,” said  David Blanco, chair of the SoCal Aerospace Council, whose mission is to help the industry thrive in Southern California.

The report was funded by Bank of America, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting, Northrop Grumman Corp. and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.