UCLA Report Downgrades Jobs Prediction

Past report was overly optimistic, says senior economist.

By City News Service

There’s bad news for job-hunters today, with UCLA economists predicting the state’s unemployment rate will remain in double digits until at least the start of 2013.

“While all of the evidence points to California growing — and perhaps growing faster than the U.S. — the state’s unemployment picture is still in the doldrums,” UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg wrote in a report released Wednesday.

Nickelsburg noted that previous Anderson Forecast reports predicted a sluggish, but improving job picture. But those predictions were a little too optimistic, according to the latest report. Nickelsburg pointed to “uncertainty, particularly in the national and international arenas” for contributing to the economic uncertainty.

California is entering a slow growth period and legislators should tread carefully, he told KFWB yesterday.

“Slow growth in the California economy in the near term means the unemployment rate will remain at the elevated rate of 10.5 percent next year,” he wrote. “… Job creation, though more rapid in late 2011 and in 2012 and 2013, will not be fast enough to push the unemployment rate below double digits until the start of 2013.

“By the end of the forecast horizon, the California unemployment rate remains substantially above that of the U.S.,” Nickelsburg wrote.

Nickelsburg predicted that the unemployment rate, which has hovered between 12 and 13 percent over the past year, will drop slightly during this year and next, but it will not dip to 9.7 percent until the first quarter of 2013.

“The drivers of the recovery from this recession will be education, health care, exports and technology and to some extent by growth in residential construction,” according to the report. “The first four are more heavily centered in coastal Californnia and are currently generating some job growth for these sub-regions.

“The latter will begin to generate jobs along the coast in the near term, but there will be little new activity inland until housing markets turn.

Thus, economic growth in California will be bifurcated with an early recovery along the coast coexisting with continued economic doldrums to the east.”

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March 10, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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