Pacific forecast looking up for S.J. County
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.”