Job growth slowed in California during the fourth quarter of 2012, but the state has been outpacing the nation and should see positive increases in employment over the next two years, according to a UCLA economic forecast recently released.
"The factors which have driven California employment and income growth to higher rates than the U.S. are still in play," UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg wrote. "As the world economy improves, and as investment in the U.S. picks up once again, California will once again have a disproportionate share of that improvement.
"Our expectation is for this to occur in 2014 and to accelerate in 2015," he wrote.
The most recent unemployment figures available from December 2012 list Lemon Grove's rate at 10.1 percent, down from 11.9 percent in March 2012, according to California Development Department data. Neighboring cities also have seen their unemployent rates decline. Spring Valley is at 9.4 percent, down from 11 percent in March 2012; La Mesa is at 6.8 percent, compared to 8 percent early last year; El Cajon's rate is at 11.1 percent, a dip from 13 percent a year ago.
San Diego County's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, down from 9.5 percent in March 2012.
Nickelsburg noted in the forecast that total non-farm employment in the United States has been increasing at an average of about 200,000 jobs per month, but California's numbers have generally been growing at a faster pace. Yet the state's economy slowed slightly toward the end of 2012, likely due to a slowing of the U.S. economy and recessions in Japan and much of Europe, he said.
But he said the slowdown should not be seen as an indication that the state's economy will lag this year and next, noting that a similar slowdown occurred at the end of 2011.
Nickelsburg said, however, that given the recent "fiscal cliff" in Washington and more recent sequestration cuts, forecasters were tempering their employment growth expectations slightly -- with non-farm employment anticipated to rise 1.4 percent this year, 2.1 percent next year and 2.3 percent in 2015. Total employment is expected to increase 1.6 percent this year, then 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent in the next two years.
"Unemployment will fall through 2013 and will average approximately 9.6 percent for this year," Nickelsburg wrote. "In 2014, we expect the unemployment rate to drop to 8.4 percent on average, a percent higher than our U.S. forecast and thence to 7.2 percent."
On the national front, UCLA economists predicted that despite the federal sequester, the recession in Europe and other factors, the United States will likely break its four-year pattern of 2 percent economic growth and reach 3 percent growth by 2014.
"By the end of 2015, the unemployment rate will approximate 6.5 percent," senior economist David Shulman wrote. "The growth will come from the gradual removal and/or adjustment to the negative factors and continued strength in housing and automobile sales, along with renewed growth in business construction and exports. Along the way, inflation will pick up and that will challenge the Federal Reserve to rethink its zero-interest rate policy in late 2014."