Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- May 18, 2004

Kern County Economic Report Released

Kern County’s economy turned in a mixed performance in the first quarter of 2004, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield. While business’s perception about local economic conditions improved, consumer sentiment dipped. Additionally, the local labor market deteriorated in the first quarter.

The Business Outlook Index rose for the fifth quarter in a row, soaring 11 percentage points over the fourth quarter 2003. “Our survey results show that business decision makers have become more optimistic about local economic conditions,” said Abbas Grammy, CSUB economics professor and publisher of the journal. “The index has gained 27 percentage points over the past four quarters. This is very good news for Kern County.”

While the Bakersfield Consumer Sentiment Index fell from a record 143 in the fourth quarter 2003 to 114, the same number as the third quarter 2003, Mark Evans, interim dean of CSUB’s extended University and an economics professor, didn’t express too much concern. “The index has returned from its hot pace at the end of 2003 to a historically normal level in the first quarter 2004,” he said. “The first quarter reading of 114 exactly matches the mean and median values of the index since its inception.”

Other trends reported in the Journal that reflect Kern’s economy:
• The unemployment rate in both Kern County as a whole and in Bakersfield rose in the first quarter 2004. Grammy said an increase in the size of the workforce and a decline in civilian employment contributed to the 9.2 percent jobless figure in Bakersfield, and the 12.6 percent jobless rate in Kern County.
• Non-farm employment turned in a mixed performance, but declined at a 2.7 percent rate in the first quarter due to job decreases in the construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, professional and business services, and federal, county and city governments.
• On the bright side, personal income continued to increase in both Kern County and Bakersfield for the sixth quarter in a row, expanding Kern’s economy by 2.6 percent.
• Economic growth in both Kern County and Bakersfield was flat.

The latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal also includes a detailed look at national trends and local challenges, Kern County demographic trends and marketing implications, and disaster-recovery planning.

The Kern Economic Journal is a quarterly publication focusing on local economic trends and developments. The journal provides the community with economic information produced by the CSUB Economics Department. "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."

A subscription to the Kern Economic Journal costs $60 per year for the print issue, $80 for the electronic issue, including archives; and $100 per year for both hard copy and online, including access to the archives.

For a free initial copy or more information about any of the studies published in the journal, please call (661) 664-2466, or e-mail Grammy at agrammy@csub.edu. You can also visit the journal's website at www.csub.edu/kej.

Contact: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu


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