State's jobs picture is looking up
"California's economy is actually healthier than popular or pundit opinion would suggest," says Christopher Thornberg, president of Beacon Economics. Despite the unacceptably high 11.7 percent unemployment rate - 2 million Californians still out of work - the economic trend line is up. "Considering that employment is a lagging indicator of overall health, it is clear that California is solidly in a new growth phase," Thornburgh says in his firm's latest employment analysis.
Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, notes that California has added close to 250,000 jobs in the past year, a bigger percentage gain - albeit a paltry 1.7 percent - than the nation as a whole.
"The industry pattern is positive for the future with gains in professional, technical, scientific and information services, and a rebound in manufacturing activity and continuing export gains," says Levy.
Nationally, chimes in Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, "employment growth will be stronger than thought." In his annual Economic and Real Estate Outlook presented last week, Rosen forecasts a net gain of 1.6 million jobs in 2012.
And which urban areas lead the pack, employment-wise? San Francisco and San Jose (Silicon Valley). Despite an 8.1 percent unemployment rate, "San Francisco is No. 1 in the country for job growth," thanks largely to the latest tech boom.
But, the recovery remains "slow and choppy," said Rosen, and can be derailed by, for example, Europe's debt crisis.
And it's not working for those who aren't in the professions Levy mentions above, or for the millions caught in the jaws of the mortgage meltdown. (More than a quarter of the subprime loans out there are 30 days or more delinquent, according to Rosen's report.)
"This has become a bifurcated economy," and we need people in Washington who will honestly step up and help fix it," he said.