Economic Productivity of California Water

Jobs, Income, and Water Use in California
Peter H. Gleick
October 22, 2004


This short summary presents information on total employment, total revenues/income, and total water use in California for various industrial and commercial sectors, using data through 2004. Far more detailed information, data, and analysis are available from the Pacific Institute and complete data sources are listed at the end of this memo.


There are gross disparities in the “economic productivity” of water use. Even modest reallocations of water from one sector of our economy to another can produce significant changes in job availability and gross state product, but such reallocations must take account of regional economic priorities, job displacement and retraining issues, equity, and environmental side-effects. The data in this analysis suggest that carefully tailored water and business strategies, however, can lead to substantial benefits for California’s economy, job picture, and agricultural production.

Jobs and Water

As Table 1 and Figure 1 show, there is a huge disparity in the number of jobs that 1,000 acre-feet of water produces in different sectors of California’s economy. The use of 1,000 acre-feet of water produces 9,000 jobs in the semiconductor industry, 2,500 jobs in commercial offices, 35 jobs in grape and wine production, and 3 jobs growing cotton. Overall, 1,000 acre-feet of water produces 22,000 jobs in California’s industrial sector, 6,600 jobs in the commercial sector, and 12 jobs in the agricultural sector. […]

Download the full report here