California is an economy of regions—from the north to the south—from the inland to coastal communities—California’s regional economies are diverse.
When the recession hit in 2008, no region was exempt. Five years later, the state’s economy is improved, but not every region has bounced back in the same way. In fact, getting back to the “good old days” has been uneven.
Unemployment rates for coastal communities have dipped, many below the state’s unemployment rate of 8.9 percent. Jobs are being added and housing prices are soaring.
Yet, in many circumstances, the story is much different when you travel inland where unemployment remains in the double digits.
Fresno, in the San Joaquin Valley, is a prime example.
“The San Joaquin Valley is historically one of the most economically distressed regions in the nation. On top of that, we experienced the double-whammy of the recession. We were among the hardest hit by the recession and suffered significantly,” said Ashley Swearengin, Mayor and California Economic Summit Co-Chair.
“It will take us longer to come back than the coastal areas because we must overcome both the effects of the most recent recession, as well as our long-term, over-dependence on the housing industry. The San Joaquin Valley’s opportunity is to diversify its economy by building a skilled, innovative workforce that fuels business growth and generates higher income levels and lasting economic stability.”
Need more proof? A recent study by The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Public Policy Institute of California show, in 2011, 22 percent of Californians were living in poverty. The federal poverty rate, that same year, was 16 percent.
Latinos, the state’s largest ethnic group, is much higher at 32.2 percent. Los Angeles County had a poverty rate of 26.9 percent and Orange County was at 24.3 percent.
Both studies only emphasize California’s reality of two economies. Education levels, and cost of living, especially housing, are big factors in economic well-being.
California Forward’s Cheryl Getuiza has more on this story.