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Jobs Predicted to Grow in Inland California

April 18, 2013

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Inland Southern California can expect more economic growth this year,
along with an unemployment rate that continues to decline. But some problems
linger in 2013, the region's ranking economist said Wednesday.

John Husing, who delivered his annual economic forecast at the Inland Empire
Economic Partnership's State of the Region event at the University of Redlands,
is predicting a third consecutive year for job growth in Riverside and San
Bernardino counties. He anticipates 28,300 workers will be added to payrolls in
2013, with hiring divided between white- and blue-collar sectors.

In 2012, 23,600 jobs were added in the two-county area, according to state
Employment Development Department data. If Husing's forecast is accurate, it
would bring the total number of payroll jobs to about 1,208,000 by the end of
the year, which would bring the area's job count back to where it was late in
2008.

Before that, when the Inland area was enjoying a huge economic boom, the number
of jobs crossed the 1.2 million plateau in late 2004.

The continued growth should lower the Inland unemployment rate to 9.5 percent by
the end of this year, Husing said. In February the jobless rate was at was at
10.8 percent, the highest in the country for any metropolitan area with a
population of at least 1 million.

"I'm pretty confident we'll break into single digits." Husing said. "And,
unemployment is falling because people are coming back into the workforce. It's
the right way for that to happen."

Job creation and unemployment data for March will be released Friday.

Husing, who has been studying the Inland Empire's economy since 1964, said of
those 28,000-plus jobs, about 40 percent will be in blue collar sectors, and the
distribution-related industries will see most of that. There will also be some
hiring in manufacturing and construction.

Sectors that sell goods and services to the existing population, which includes
generally lower-paying fields such as retail, will see about 10,500 new jobs,
about 37 percent of the growth Husing anticipates. The remainder should come
from professional services, including health care and higher education.

More cutbacks can be expected in government jobs, and Husing said the federal
government's sequestration process could cost the Inland region about 1,500
public-sector positions this year.

But the construction industry, which went from about 132,000 jobs in June 2006
to 58,000 in February, is still curtailed by a housing market that has not fully
found its legs. The difference between the price of an existing residence is
much less than that of a new home, and that is acting as a brake on potential
new construction.

Also, thousands of Inland homeowners owe way more on their mortgages than what
their home is worth and are still making regular payments, leaving them less
money to spend locally.

"People are paying these mortgages, and they're sending millions of dollars a
month of out the region," Husing said.

Husing also strongly criticized Los Angeles World Airports, which owns Ontario
International Airport. ONT recently announced that its passenger count was down
around 1986 levels, which was 10 years before the new terminals were built and
when the Inland Empire's population was a fraction of what it is now.

Along with forcing local residents to drive to other airports, this hampers many
businesses who want to fly potential customers in or send their sales crews to
other cities.

"LAWA should burn in hell," Husing said. His comments drew enthusiastic applause
from the 200-plus business and civic leaders that attended Wednesday's event.
(LAWA) does not have our interests at all."

John Magness, president of Hillwood Investment Properties, the industrial
developer that is largely responsible for building up the area around the former
Norton Air Force Base, said the number of companies interested in industrial
leases for warehouse space always tends to go up when the gross domestic product
does. Currently, developers are buying land in cities such as Rialto, Redlands
and Chino, he said.

"In striking contrast to 2009, the market is looking really good right now,"
Magness said.

One of 2012's success stories is the Amazon.com fulfillment center that opened
in San Bernardino. Magness said it usually employs 700, but that swelled to
about 2,500 during the holiday run-up. More leases for online shipping could be
a big help for the future workforce.

Many of the Inland area's problems can be traced to lawmakers in Sacramento.
Several speakers addressed regulations that hinder job growth, and Husing said
that influential people in the San Francisco area, where almost half the
population hold college degrees, don't understand how a blue-collar economy
works.

Paul Granillo, president and CEO of the IEEP, the region's largest economic
development group, said he spent the past few years talking to some of these
people and trying to explain the Inland area's situation.

"Unless we're at the table, we're lunch," Granillo said.

___

(c)2013 The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: Copyright Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) 2013

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