California economy still a mixed bag

150 150 Ed Coghlan

It might surprise you that California’s economy in 2011 grew 2 percent, which was faster than the national average.  The statistics for 2012 aren’t yet available, but the state continues to sputter. For instance, the giant supermarket chain Albertson’s announced this week that it plans to cut 2500 jobs in California and Nevada…as competition from big stories like Target and Costco continues to erode market share.

The state’s employment picture continues to be uncertain as unemployment hovers around 11 percent, still about 3 full percentage points higher than the national average. Job creation in the state continues to be a huge priority.

The first California Economic Summit, which was held in Santa Clara on May 11, will release its report at the end of June, and job creation was a major focus. An area that we expect will receive much attention is workforce preparation, as thousands of jobs in California go unfilled, in many cases because not enough qualified workers are available. A larger commitment to aligning the workforce preparation with the jobs of the 21st Century must be made in order to increase employment in California.

Californians are ready for change and expect state business and political leaders to focus on creating jobs in the Golden State. While there weren’t any conclusions about California’s economy that can be absolutely drawn from Tuesday night’s primary election results, it does appear that the state’s voters are getting impatient. 

In two major California cities, San Diego and San Jose, voters spoke loudly about public employee pensions. Despite efforts by organized labor to defend the status quo, voters in both cities resoundingly cut pension programs for their city employees. The national press has been spending the day analyzing the results and an AP Story indicated that this might set off more local and state elections around that would put before the voters this important economic question. 

Legal challenges have already been filed in San Jose. Other municipal and state governments are sure to be watching as the legal challenges take shape. Public pensions have come under increasing scrutiny as government agencies look for ways to control ballooning budgets and weather the recession.

Here’s how California Forward’s Cheryl Getuzia reported on the voting results. 


Ed Coghlan

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