The Inland Empire economy is lurching toward recovery, and dire prognostications about another national recession are misplaced, according to a report released Thursday.
Los Angeles-based Beacon Economics and the UC Riverside School of Business Administration jointly published their annual “Riverside-San Bernardino Economic Forecast” during a conference at the Riverside Convention Center.
Contrary to the bleak predictions made by some observers, the Beacon-UCR report posits a cautiously upbeat assessment of the local, state and national economies’ prospects.
“Digging out from the ‘Great Recession’ was never going to be easy, and the economy is still way behind where it should be at this stage in the business cycle, but the recovery is under way, nationally and in Inland Southern California.” said Beacon Economics founder Chris Thornberg.
The forecast cites the slight turnaround in the state and regional labor markets over the last year as a positive sign, with the Inland Empire’s unemployment rate roughly 1 percent below where it was this time in 2010.
Taxable sales have also picked up, rising 16 percent from where they bottomed out in 2009, according to the report.
“The significant traditional advantages Inland Southern California offers, such as affordable housing, coupled with exciting new initiatives to expand our employment base into areas such as high-tech, will again make us one of California’s fastest-growing regions,” said UCR School of Business Administration Dean Yunzeng Wang.
The forecast highlighted key indicators pointing to economic growth in the year ahead including: A rise in total incomes regionally this year, contributing to elevated levels of personal spending; stabilization in the housing market, with the pace of foreclosures slowing down significantly since 2009; and, continued growth in business investment nationally, with exports rising as U.S. goods become cheaper because of dollar devaluation.
The report noted that California, though showing slight improvement on the labor front with a net gain of 225,000 jobs since last year, will experience continuing challenges as workers who lack training for new-economy jobs struggle to find employment.
This week, the Riverside County Executive Office released its first- quarter 2011-12 fiscal year budget report, which acknowledged “tepid signs” of economic recovery. However, county analysts emphasized that the recession’s massive lingering effects would continue to weigh on consumer spending and the real estate market, leaving government coffers leaner than the year before.
Executive Office personnel are anticipating upwards of 600 layoffs by the start of 2012-13 to close the county’s structural budget deficit.