LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Ongoing drought conditions combined with a harsh winter back East and across the nation are not expected to significantly dampen economic growth in California, according to a UCLA economic forecast released Wednesday.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports while employment is expected to trend upward through 2017, gains could be slower than initially forecast and possibly comparable to struggling cities like Detroit and Cleveland.
According to UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg, the continuing drought will cause losses — particularly in agricultural sectors — but will likely only lower forecast employment growth rates by about 0.2 percent.
“This is more a recognition that disruptions are not without cost than a significant change in our economic forecast for the Golden State,” Nickelsburg wrote.
Employment statewide is predicted to grow 1.8 percent this year, 2.2 percent next year and 2.1 percent in 2016. The California unemployment rate is expected to be 7.8 percent for this year, followed by about 6.9 percent next year, and 6 percent in 2016, although economists say the rate could dip to 5.7 percent by the fourth quarter of 2016.
Ed Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, said the outlook specifically for Southern California is even less optimistic.
“L.A. has had one of the most dismal performances in terms of job growth over the last two decades; we’re like Detroit and Cleveland,” Leamer said.
One of the biggest factors behind the sluggish job growth is a combination of high housing prices and “too many kids who don’t graduate from high school” and “too many kids who graduate high school without the skills they need for 21st-century jobs,” he added.
In fact, the L.A. metro area ranked 26th out of 30 major metropolitan areas across the U.S. in human capital, the measurement of education level in a population’s adult workers, according to the forecast
“The destiny I worry about is sort of Victorian England, where we have a few extremely wealthy people living in castles, and the rest of us are service workers for them in one way or the other,” he said.
According to the report, an analysis of past drought periods found no relationship with overall employment growth, although farm jobs are generally affected.
“Thus on an aggregate level, we conclude that while a ‘normal’ recurrent drought has an impact on agriculture, it is difficult to pick up a significant change in the trajectory of the California economy as a consequence of it,” Nickelsburg wrote.
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