California economy turning around? It’s all about the jobs!

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Home construction in Santa Monica. (Photo Credit: Nekenasoa/Flickr)

When you talk with Californians about the state of the state, the conversation turns to the economy, and especially to jobs. A recent poll by the PPIC showed that 67 percent of California voters say jobs and the economy are the state’s biggest priority. 

Michael Hiltzik’s column in the LA Times this week wonders out loud if California even has a job creation policy. The highly respected president of the Southern California Association of Government, Glen Becerra put it very directly.

“When is it worth staying in California to do business?,” asked Becerra. “I don’t see the state or local governments putting an emphasis on job creation.”

The California Economic Summit has identified job creation and improving the California economic climate as an overall goal and is working on seven signature initiatives to help reach that important goal.

Meanwhile the job market continues to change as the economy does. Michael Bernick, who is a fellow at the Milken Institute, wrote an interesting piece for Fox and Hounds about what technological change means for California’s job training and educational institutions.

Think of the jobs that are just going away. When’s the last time you were in a record store or visited a travel agency? The disruptive technology in the information age is even changing how people attend school.

I spoke with a professor from a Master’s program at the University of Southern California who said that most of her graduate students are taking courses online. Many bemoan losing the classroom experience, but as the professor said, “You have to go where the students are.”

In the meantime, will California’s economy recover? Governor Brown’s budget released Thursday indicates he seems to think things are getting better, albeit slowly. He projects a budget without a deficit. 

California has created more jobs than any other state in the last year, but the beleaguered construction industry is just now starting to recover. California lost around 700,000 construction jobs during the recession as housing markets collapsed around the state. 

Nowhere in California has the local economy been hit harder than in the Inland Empire. While the manufacturing sector has been doing better over the past couple of years, growth is slowing. In a story in the Riverside Press Enterprise, the Purchasing Manager’s Index compiled by Chapman University indicated that advance orders are slowing. A spokesman for a computer company suggested business owners are “scared stiff about possible sequestration issues and taxation.”

The Legislative Analyst’s Office Cal Facts 2013 report released Wednesday details the overall California economic recovery as having mixed results. The report says we have a ways to go before we get employment back to the levels before the recession hit. 

The report reads, “The state’s economic recovery, prior budget cuts, and additional, temporary taxes have contributed to a much smaller budget shortfall in 2013-14.”

However, these projections can be altered significantly if larger economic trends sour later this year. The aforementioned budget cuts and temporary taxes have had a noticeable impact on numerous sectors of California’s economy.


Ed Coghlan

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