According to the UCLA Anderson Forecast, it is predicted that California employers will shed another 90,000 jobs this year and job growth will remain slow. Overall, it’s expected to remain around 12%. California is far worse than the national average (which hovers just below 10%); however, there is much to improve with both.

Oddly, even though Southern California has huge unemployment rates and has lost some large companies in the last several years, L.A. County remains the largest manufacturing center in the U.S. with 380,000 factory jobs. On the other hand, it only holds the #1 slot because longtime #2, Chicago’s Cook County has also seen half of its manufacturing jobs vanish over the last 20 years.

The losses in manufacturing have accelerated over the last two years as manufacturers have reduced production in line with reduced consumer demand. However, interestingly, not every major metropolitan county has been losing manufacturing jobs. Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston) has added 20,000 manufacturing jobs since 1990 and is closing in on the #2 position. Houston is much more cost competitive.

Thus, what should we do? We have to turn towards INNOVATION, which happens to be America’s foundation. I recently wrote an article for M World, the American Management Association’s magazine, titled “Accelerating Cash Flow through Supply Chain Innovation”. The spring issue of M World focused exclusively on innovation. According to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, we must spend our time more productively by rediscovering the traits that have long made America’s economy the envy of the world. Scientific research. Innovation. New technology. Entrepreneurship and the new modes of commerce.

As Gary Locke’s says, “Despite our current problems, America still employs 70% of the world’s Nobel Prize winners and is home to three-quarters of the world’s top 40 universities.” In my opinion, we need to emphasize innovation in businesses and throughout the educational system. There’s no time to waste!