Campus: CSU, Long Beach -- May 16, 2001

CSULB Economic Forecast Predicts Southern California Will Continue to Outperform Nation

For the next two years, at least, the Southern California regionís economy will continue to grow at a faster pace than the rest of the nation, according to the report released by the Office of Economic Research at Cal State Long Beach.

Economic Professors Joe Magaddino and Lisa Grobar presented their 2001-2002 Regional Economic Forecast last Thursday (May 10) before a capacity crowd in The Pointe at The Pyramid. And, while the predictions were not as glowing as they have been the last couple of years, the outlook for the region-which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties-continues to be good.

"With the slowing of the national economy, we are going to see a noticeable slowdown in the rate of growth within the Southern California region," said Lisa Grobar, director of CSULBís Economic Forecast Project. "But our regional economy is going to remain healthy for the next couple of years."

Part of the reason for the regionís "healthy" near future is its different economic cycle. The U.S. economy began its expansion in 1991, the same year Southern California entered a grueling recession. The regional economy did not join the national expansion until 1994.

Still, Magaddino and Grobar believe that the current slowing of the nationís economy will have a significant effect on the regionís employment growth, which hit 2.9 percent in 2000. The report calls for job growth of 2.2 percent this year followed by 2.1 percent in 2002 and 2.2 percent in 2003.

The slowing in employment growth will be seen in most sectors of the regionís economy, particularly in construction, trade and manufacturing, the report stated. In fact, the manufacturing sector will remain weak over the next couple of years, especially in the durable goods category.

The final figures for the 2000 economic year were described as "impressive" in the report. Strong job growth combined with stock market gains led to a growth in personal income of 11.5 percent last year. However, conditions in the job market and the stock market have changed substantially. Consequently, the forecast predicted just a 5.9 percent gain in personal income for 2001.

The 2001-2002 Regional Economic Forecast also included predictions for each of the five counties that make up its Southern California region. Some of those projections included:

  • After recording an increase of 2 percent in 2000, employment growth in Los Angeles County will return to the 1999 rate of 1.5 percent in 2001 and remain in the range of 1.5-1.6 percent growth annually through 2003;

  • Orange Countyís job growth hit 3.4 percent last year, but that figure is expected to fall to 3.0 percent in 2001 and 2.2 percent in 2002. Sectors that will slow during 2001-2002 include services, construction, retail trade and the aggregate transportation, communications and utilities sector;

  • Last yearís booming 5.6 percent increase in job growth for Riverside/San Bernardino counties will drop to 4.0 percent this year before picking back up to 4.6 percent in 2002. Riverside/San Bernardino has continued to see growth in both categories of manufacturing employment, but this growth will slow this year because of the slowing U.S. economy. The counties will also experience a slowing in the pace of employment growth in construction and retail trade this year;

  • Employment growth in Ventura County remained robust in 2000 at 4.0 percent, but the construction sector, which was a major source of growth in recent years, has been slowing substantially. That fact, combined with the predicted slowing in the trade and services sectors, will mean much slower job growth for the county in the near term-2.4 percent in 2001 followed by growth in the range of 2.0-2.3 percent annually through 2003.

What does all of this actually mean for the forecastís five-county, Southern California region? Magaddino put it in perspective.

"Employment growth rates above 2 percent are indicative of a healthy economy," explained Magaddino, director of the Office of Economic Research. "Because the Southern California region will not slow nearly as much as the nation this year, the region will outperform the nation by a widening margin over the next few years."

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