Pa­cific fore­cast look­ing up for S.J. County

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Business - By Roger Phillips

STOCK­TON — San Joaquin County’s pop­u­la­tion will in­crease by 40,000, av­er­age an­nual wages will in­crease by more than $8,000 and un­em­ploy­ment will drop to 7 per­cent.

Those are a few of the nuggets of data from the newly re­leased “2017-2020 Cal­i­for­nia & Metro Fore­cast” by the Cen­ter for Busi­ness and Pol­icy Re­search at Univer­sity of the Pa­cific.

“It’s a mix of pos­i­tive news and some cau­tions,” the cen­ter’s di­rec­tor, Jef­frey Michael, said Wed­nes­day of the 56-page re­port. “It’s been a long, steady re­cov­ery and ex­pan­sion (since the Great Re­ces­sion). It con­tin­ues to go for­ward.”

The quar­terly re­port in­cor­po­rates a re­gion that in­cludes Fresno to the south; Placer, Sacra­mento and Yolo coun­ties to the north; and San Fran­cisco, Alameda and San Ma­teo coun­ties to the west. Among the high­lights: • Cal­i­for­nia un­em­ploy­ment is about 5 per­cent and is fore­cast to sta­bi­lize at slightly be­low that through 2020.

Un­em­ploy­ment in the Stock­ton Metropoli­tan Sta­tis­ti­cal Area (San Joaquin County) has de­creased from 8.2 per­cent at the start of 2016 to a cur­rent 7.5 per­cent rate. It is fore­cast to de­crease to 7 per­cent by late 2016.

• A hous­ing short­age is at “cri­sis” lev­els and con­tin­ues to put “up­ward pres­sure” on rents and home prices in San Joaquin County, Michael said. The good news is that the re­search cen­ter is fore­cast­ing a strong in­crease in construction ac­tiv­ity by 2020. That surge also means construction em­ploy­ment will re­main the fastest-grow­ing job sec­tor in the county, ac­cord­ing to the data.

• Hous­ing de­vel­op­ment in the city of Stock­ton will con­tinue to lag be­hind that oc­cur­ring in the south­ern reaches of San Joaquin County, Michael said, but this does not mean he is gloomy about Stock­ton’s up­com­ing prospects.

“I think we will see growth in Stock­ton,” Michael said. “One new de­vel­op­ment can change the pace of growth. We’re see­ing a lot of the same pat­terns as far as ris­ing home prices and rents (in the city as in the county). Those are de­vel­op­ments that spur hous­ing ac­tiv­ity.”

• San Joaquin County’s cur­rent pop­u­la­tion of more than 746,000 will in­crease to more than 786,000 by 2021. Av­er­age an­nual wages of more than $52,000 will in­crease to more than $60,000 in the next few years.

Michael said San Joaquin County must ex­pand the di­ver­sity of its econ­omy if it is to thrive.

“Peo­ple think of it as an agri­cul­tural re­gion but the real eco­nomic chal­lenge in the Val­ley ... is to de­velop a more high­skilled ur­ban econ­omy,” Michael said.

The newly re­leased re­port also states that up­heaval in na­tional pol­i­tics in the past year has had a neu­tral ef­fect on Cal­i­for­nia’s econ­omy.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has not been as dis­rup­tive to the health care sys­tem or in­ter­na­tional econ­omy as ini­tially feared, both of which are pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments for Cal­i­for­nia,” the re­port says. “Thus far, the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment has fea­tured a lot of noise and cul­tural con­flict, but lit­tle in the way of sub­stan­tive pol­icy ac­tions with sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic im­pacts.”

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