California's manufacturing sector has slid into recession, according to a quarterly survey released by Chapman University in Orange.

The A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research's composite index of manufacturing strength in California plunged to 45.1 in the third quarter, down from 50.3 in the previous quarter and 56.4 a year ago. A reading below 50 indicates recession.

The only bright spot in the survey was the aerospace products and parts industry -- the only manufacturing sector to record an increase in employment during the third quarter.

California manufacturers overall fared worse than the national average, which registered an index reading of 47.8.

The center's survey of California purchasing managers moved the index for durable goods manufacturing (excluding high tech) down to 39.2, the lowest level since the survey began in 2002.

The index measuring production of manufactured goods plummeted to 44.2 in the third quarter, indicating the first decrease in production since the first quarter of 2003. New orders, an indicator of future production activity, also fell below 50 to 41.9, a significant contraction.

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