Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- November 30, 2001

Kern County Businesses Are Much Less Optimistic About Local Economic Conditions According To A Survey From The Center For Economic Education And Research At CSU, Bakersfield

Kern County businesses are much less optimistic about local economic conditions than they were just a few months ago, according to a survey in the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by the Center for Economic Education and Research at California State University, Bakersfield.

The quarterly Kern Business Outlook Survey showed an 11-point plunge in the Business Outlook Index in the quarter ending Sept. 30. Factors contributing to pessimism are:

  • Economic effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Personal security and safety considerations in air travel.
  • Reduced consumer spending in anticipation of a recession.
  • Seasonality of production in agriculture.
  • Merger of Chevron and Texaco, which could mean local job losses.

"The sizeable decline indicates that business managers are much less optimistic about local business conditions," said Abbas Grammy, CSUB economics professor and editor of the Kern Economic Journal. "Compared with a year ago, the index plunged 14 points, indicating considerable erosion in business optimism."

Likewise, the Bakersfield Consumer Sentiment Index plunged to 94 in the third quarter from a robust 119 in the second quarter. "This is the lowest attained value in the history of the index," said economic professor Mark Evans, who conducted the study.

Not all the news was bad though. Kern County's unemployment rate continued to fall, declining from 9.9 percent to 9.4 percent between the second and third quarters. That's significant in a county that traditionally has a double-digit jobless rate, Grammy said.

The Kern Economic Journal is a quarterly publication focusing on local economic trends and developments. Grammy, chairman of CSUB's economics department, directs the Center for Economic Education and Research and is the journal's editor. Jeff Johnson, director of the Weill Institute Small Business Development Center, also serves on the journal's editorial board.

The journal provides the community with economic information produced by the center. "What we provide is local economic news," Grammy said. "This helps local business people make better decisions. We study local economic trends to determine how the local economy is progressing."

Other articles in the latest issue include:

  • The second part of economics professor Sriram Khe's examination of the urbanization of Kern County.

  • A story by Jeffrey Johnson, director of the Weill Institute Small Business Development Center, that says the county's rapid population growth makes it imperative that the county create high paying jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to single digits.

  • A story by Sheryl Barbich, president of Integrated Knowledge Group, Inc., that says the county is faced with a two-pronged challenge: to create jobs for the unemployed, and to attract and grow businesses that will generate higher income levels.

A subscription to the Kern Economic Journal costs $40 per year. For a free initial copy or more information about any of the studies published in the journal, please call the Center for Economic Education and Research at 661/664-2460. You can also visit the journal's website at

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