Fresno finishes second to last in new economic recovery study

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Photo courtesty of Flickr user Great Valley Center

This piece originally appeared on the California Economic Summit blog.

It’s not exactly the kind of finish the city of Fresno had hoped for, but it’s a reality. 

Out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, the city in California’s Central Valley ranked 99 out of 100, beating out only Little Rock, Arkansas.

The study was conducted by the Brookings Institution’s MetroMonitor on how well employment, unemployment, economic productivity and housing prices are bouncing back from recession. 

The good news—the region is seeing growth. It’s just slower than the rest of the nation.

“The economic new varies widely, depending on where you live,” said Alex Friedhoff, a research analyst with the Metropolitan Policy Program and lead developer of the MetroMonitor. 

Unemployment in the county, which covers Fresno, Clovis and other small towns and cities, is usually higher than the national average. The unemployment rate was 15.7 percent in May. 

Since late 2009, the county has regained 92 percent of the jobs lost, however, 81 cities had a higher job growth in the first quarter of this year.

Getting back to its glory days was an important topic discussed at the first California Economic Summit

Folks from the region believe educating the workforce for jobs available now is a major hurdle to overcome, as well as diversifying its workforce overall. Agriculture is the main contributor to the economy. The region also has a high percentage of government employees.

“Certain high-tech regions, manufacturing and places in the Mountain west have rebounded recently, but regions where government employment was important, are struggling due to a fragile market and public sector job cuts,” said Friedhoff.

On the other end of the spectrum—the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region—ranked 9th overall for economic recovery. The high tech region-also known as the innovation capital of the world is making great strides with an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent as of May. 

The area is home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations including Apple, Google and Intel, and accounts for an astounding one-third of all venture capital investment in the United States.

 “Slowed U.S. job growth in the second quarter of 2012 will undoubtedly be reflected in the experiences of the nation’s major metropolitan economies,” said Friedhoff. 

“At the same time, the tremendous metro variation in the pace of recovery will surely persist. With Washington gridlocked on economic policy, local and regional leaders face the difficult tasks of creating jobs in the short term while positioning their distinct economies for long-term sustainable growth.”


Cheryl Getuiza

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