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The Workforce

The Workforce, Tijuana, Mexico

Demographic Impact

Massive population growth serves as Tijuana's greatest advantage and simultaneous detriment. Labor is abundant, though extremely migratory. Factory turnover exceeds 20% per month in some maquilas. Workers simply have too many options and are frequently lured across the border to seek higher paying jobs in Los Angeles or San Diego. Excessive growth also severely strains housing capacity, adding to the turnover problem.

Employment Considerations

As of 2005 approximately 155,000 people are employed in 574 Tijuana maquilas. The developments and industrial parks in the southern and eastern parts of the city tend to be better planned, closer to worker living areas, and accessible by worker buses on wider road networks.

Unemployed Percentage

San Diego exceeds 10% due mainly to its own rapid growth and migration by unemployed Americans, a statistic which misrepresents the city's capacity to create new jobs and provide for entrepreneurial opportunity. The US recessions has also contributed to a stall, although San Diego service sectors have fared better than the remainder of California. Tijuana unemployment ranges between 10% - 12%, among the highest across the border communities.

Skill Ranking

A number of larger maquilas have located in Tijuana in the past five years, bringing with them higher skill training and education requirements. Tijuana is dominated by Japanese, and recently Korean, electronics firms, a roster of "who's who" in the television manufacturing industry. Tijuana's literacy rate of 97% in average for border cities, with 76% of its workforce high school graduates and an additional 8% having finished preparatory or technical school.

Education and Training

A number of technical institutes are available throughout Tijuana, as are university-level opportunities. Tijuana developers have instituted on-site training centers as have their counterparts in Juarez, indicative of their reliance on simpler assembly functions and a lack of heavy manufacturing in the city.

Turnover Rates

As detailed above, estimates typically run as high as 109% per month in some factories. Smaller shops with lower skills contribute to this, as do Japanese and Korean management principal that have not been especially effective in Tijuana's electronics maquilas.

Availability of Labor

Population and demographic projections still point to above average growth, as expected to accompany increased trade, border migration and higher birth rates. A quick look at maquila employment in Tijuana reveals:

Employment Size

% of Total Employment









over 1,000


Wage Rates

Average hourly wages paid in Tijuana in manufacturing as of 2005:


U.S. Dollars

Entry-Level Worker

$1.6- $1.8

Normal-Line Worker


Experienced-Key Worker


Average weekly wages pain in Tijuana:


U. S. Dollars

Head of Accounting Department


Head of Human Resources


Head of Production


Source: EDC, State Employment Agency

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