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California Export Trade Resumes Growth, Despite Global Turmoil

 LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – California’s export trade recovered from its April stumble and resumed a positive growth track in May, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of foreign trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The value of goods shipped abroad by California businesses in May totaled $13.88 billion, a nominal increase of 5.2% over the $13.20 billion recorded in May 2011.

California exports to the European Union were down 10.3% from May of last year, while export shipments to the nations of the Pacific Rim were up 4.0%. Mexico continued to be the state’s largest and most vibrant export market, with exports in May up by 23.9% over May 2011.

“Given the generally parlous condition of the global marketplace these past few months, May’s overall numbers demonstrate the resilience of California’s export industries,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Adviser.

The state’s manufactured exports in May were particularly impressive, jumping by 7.4% from $8.54 billion last May to $9.18 billion this year. Re-exports nudged up by 2.2% from $2.93 to $3.00 billion. However, exports of non-manufactured goods – chiefly agricultural products and raw materials – did slip by 1.1% from $1.72 billion in May 2011 to $1.70 billion this May.

The growth in manufactured exports has been particularly helpful in boosting manufacturing employment in the state, which is up by more than 10,000 jobs since hitting bottom in September 2009, according to Beacon Economics’ Director of Economic Research Jordan Levine. “Although the pace of export growth has slowed from the double-digit increases we saw in 2010 and 2011, and despite the turmoil abroad, continued solid demand for California-made goods and services is helping drive employment in the manufacturing sector,” Levine said.

Beacon Economics’ analysis also reported that, adjusting for inflation, the value of California’s exports so far in 2012 is running approximately 5% ahead of 2008, formerly the peak year for the state’s export trade.

“With the dollar stronger by more than 13% over last year at this time, much of Europe mired in recession, and slowing economic growth in major economies in Asia and South America, California exporters are facing some severe headwinds but are still coming out ahead of the game,” O’Connell said.

Still, global economic conditions could deteriorate further and affect California’s export trade, especially if efforts by European leaders to resolve the European Union’s debt drama continue to leave the world’s financial markets unimpressed, according to O‘Connell.

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