Jobless rate dips amid concern about divided California economy

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Imperial County faces unemployment rate over 25% while Marin County is experiencing 5% unemployment. (Photo Credit: Ken Lund/Flickr, Zach Bass/Flickr)

It’s been an interesting week for the California economy. A theme that featured prominently at the California Economic Summit in November was amplified again by UCLA’s prestigious Anderson School, which issued its state report this week.

It detailed the widening economic gulf between the thriving coastal regions of California and the inland areas.

“Along the coast from Marin to San Diego, including a sliver of Los Angeles County known as the Westside/Silicon Beach, California employment gains are outpacing the U.S.,” UCLA senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg writes. “But move off the coast and the situation is quite different.”

Nickelsburg points out that there are bright spots in the inland economy, notably the energy boom underway in Kern County and the new medical school at UC Riverside.

A co-chair of the California Economic Summit Steering Committee, Paul Granillo, who also runs the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, has been an eloquent voice in this “2 Californias” narrative.

“Since the Economic Summit, this issue of the two Californias has been receiving a lot of media attention which is healthy. Knowing about it is one thing. Fixing it is another,” said Granillo.

Granillo said the California Stewardship Network and educational leaders in the California State University system are discussing the creation of the Inland California Coalition to focus attention and develop solutions for this growing economic disparity.

“California’s economic recovery will be complete when all the regions are healthy,” Granillo added.

Granillo wrote this op-ed in advance of the Summit in the Riverside Press Enterprise that spoke to this issue.

The California Economic Summit addresses the top issue in the state, which is the creation of middle-class jobs and keeping the state competitive in the global economy. The Summit attracted over 400 Californians to Los Angeles and identified initiatives that can help drive that job growth including investment in infrastructure, workforce development and advancing manufacturing. A report on commitments made by attendees of the Summit will be released later this year.

In the Anderson School report they predicted the state would end the year with an average of an 8.9 percent unemployment rate, which would drop to 8.2 percent next year.

Interestingly, the national jobs report for November just came out—the national unemployment rate has dropped to 7 percent with the addition of 203,000 jobs last month. California’s November jobs report won’t be out until the middle of the month. The last report showed the state’s unemployment rate in October was 8.7 percent, as the state added nearly 40,000 payroll jobs.

The trend has been in the right direction in the state as a whole—the state’s economy is growing according the Anderson School report. However, the growing concern about the uneven aspects of the state’s economic recovery is taking center stage. 


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan