LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — High consumer confidence and widespread job creation will help California see steady job gains through 2017, according to a UCLA economic forecast released Thursday.

Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast, concludes in his report that the state will see employment growth of 2.4 percent this year, 2.2 percent next year and 1.5 percent in 2017.

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“The increase in U.S. growth rates from construction, automobiles and business investment as well as higher consumer demand will continue to fuel our local economy,” Nickelsburg wrote in his report on the California economy.
“What this means is a steady decrease in the unemployment rate in California over the next three years.”

He predicted the unemployment rate will be “insignificantly different from the U.S. rate at 5.1 percent” by the end of 2017.

According to Nickelsburg, the state’s unemployment rate will be about 6.5 percent for the rest of the year, then average about 5.5 percent next year and ultimately slip to 5.1 percent.

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“California’s employment, even after adjusting for the impact of the slowdown/shutdown at the ports, should continue to grow faster than the U.S., though not by much and the unemployment rate should continue to fall through the forecast period,” Nickelsburg wrote.

The Anderson Forecast also looked at the local entertainment industry and found that between 2001 and 2013, it grew by 22 percent in terms of total employee compensation, while nationwide, employee compensation in the industry grew by 33 percent. Los Angeles continues to dominate entertainment production with an estimated economic output of $55 billion in 2013.

Employee compensation in the industry in 2013 was $14.3 billion, far ahead of New York’s $6.5 billion and San Francisco’s $1 billion, according to the report.

On the national front, Anderson Forecast senior economist David Shulman said the U.S. economy remains on a 3 percent growth path for real gross domestic product over the next two years. That will lower the national unemployment rate to about 5 percent by the end of the year, Shulman concluded.

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