Employment won't match peak until 2015, DeVol says
November 15, 2012
When will California's job market match its previous peak of 15.2 million employed workers? Despite better-than-average job creation, that won't happen until 2015, according to Ross DeVol, the Milken InstituteaEUR(TM)s chief research officer.

DeVol opened the inaugural California Summit with his forecast for the state economy. He noted that California's economy and labor markets were hit harder than most other states', yet California has closed the employment gap, thanks to increased consumer spending and business investment in information and communications technology and social media.

Employers created a net 262,000 jobs in the past year, outpacing the national average. The new jobs are largely in business and professional services, and leisure and hospitality. On the downside, manufacturing has lost 11,000 jobs in California, contrary to the national trend. The public sector remains the biggest drag on state job growth as state and local governments lost 41,000 jobs since last year.

As a result, unemployment is falling. California's jobless rate fell to 10.2 percent in September, down 0.4 percentage point from August and down 1.5 percentage points since September 2011. Nevertheless, unemployment won't dip below 8 percent until the end of 2015, DeVol said.

Watch the video for the full forecast, but here are a few more tidbits:

HOUSING: The housing market is contributing to the economy for the first time since 2006. Sales of new and existing homes sales have improved, and the median price is up 24 percent since April 2009. Even better for some of you: Young adults are starting to move out of their parents' homes.

EXPORTS: After increasing at rates in excess of 30 percent early in the recovery, export growth has moderated. Through August, California's exports were up 5 percent over 2011. DeVol hinted that exports may not improve anytime soon. About 40 percent of California's exports are destined for Asia, and beginning to slow, thanks to ripple effects from Europe's woes.

SKILLED WORKERS: DeVol warned that California will eventually face a shortage of skilled workers if current trends persist. By 2025, just 35 percent of the state's working-age adults will be college graduates, but 41 percent of jobs will require at least a bachelor's degree. That's a shortfall of 1 million skilled workers.