WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A slower-than-expected recovery in the housing market and looming health care reform deadlines could limit economic growth in California, according to a report released Thursday.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports economists with the UCLA Anderson Forecast predict growth in employment should remain at 2.7 percent for the rest of 2013, followed by a 2.1 percent growth rate through 2015 as the statewide jobless rate continues to inch downward.

Roughly 80,000 non-farm jobs were added in California between April and July, representing 15.2 percent of the U.S. non-farm payroll growth over the same period, reducing the differential between the state jobless rate and the nation’s from 3 percent to about 1.4 percent.

The report predicted the unemployment rate in California – currently at 8.7 percent – to average about 8.9 percent before dropping to an average of 6.7 percent in 2015.

But Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with the Anderson School of Business, said the report’s positive indicators should be taken in stride.

“The U.S. is not just underperforming, it is barely keeping ahead of population growth,” Nickelsburg wrote. “Outside of California and a few other states, discouraged workers have kept the labor force down, making the employment/unemployment statistics look better than they really are.”

The forecast also projects that the majority of the California labor force continues to be deficient in the skills necessary for 21st-century jobs, such as computer programming, software work and other high-tech fields.

In his national outlook, Anderson Forecast senior economist David Shulman also noted that any gains in the jobs market could be offset by adjustments made by businesses bracing for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare”.

“Simply put, there are incentives for firms to convert full-time employees to part-time and for small businesses to limit their headcount to 50 full-time employees,” Shulman said.

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