March 1, 2000
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or mstepanovich@csub.edu
Or Pat Wright, 661/664-2138 or pwright@csub.edu

Economic News From CEER

Consumer confidence in Bakersfield remained high in the fourth quarter of 1999, according to a survey in the latest issue of Kern Economic Journal, published by the Center for Economic Education and Research at California State University, Bakersfield.

The study, prepared by CSUB economics professor Mark Evans, showed that "more than twice as many Bakersfield-area households are better off compared to worse off," compared to a year ago, and that "four times more respondents perceive their acquaintances in Kern County to be better off than worse off."

Also, the study showed that nearly half of all respondents anticipate they'll be better off a year from now, compared to only 11 percent who thought they would be worse off.

"This is good news," Evans said. "It confirms that households are more optimistic about local economic conditions. ... The Consumer Sentiment Index increased by seven points from 110 to 117. It bodes well for the local economy."

The Kern Economic Journal is a quarterly publication focusing on local economic trends and developments. Abbas Grammy, chairman of CSUB's economics department, is the journal's editor. Evans directs the Center for Economic Education and Research. Jeff Johnson, director of the Weill Institute Small Business Development Center, also serves on the journal's editorial board.

The journal provides the community with economic information produced by the center. It is published each January, April, July and October.

The journal has just completed its first year of quarterly publications, "and what a receptive audience we've found," Evans said.

Grammy said, "The business person gets state and national economic news all the time. What has been lacking is local economic news. This helps local business people make better decisions. We study local economic trends to determine how the local economy is progressing."

Plus, he said, "it's a vehicle for the community, too. Each issue has several articles from community experts. More and more we're including local experts."

The latest issue is an example. It includes an article by San Joaquin Bank President Bart Hill on the effect of bank mergers on Kern County consumers; an article by John Nilon, executive director of Employer's Training Resource, on the Workforce Investment Act; and an article by CB Richard Ellis Manager Patrick Collins on the industrial real estate market in Bakersfield.

It also includes a perspective of Kern County's economy over the last 30 years by CSUB economics professor Frank Falero.

"Our county's economics depend on oil, agriculture and defense spending," Evans said. "Those are spending dynamics that you don't find elsewhere, but you will find reported in the Kern Economic Journal."

As one of the San Joaquin Valley counties, Kern experiences a low cost of living, but double digit unemployment rate. Grammy said "1999 was a great year for us in terms of unemployment and job creation. In late 1999 we found the jobless rate was below 10 percent. Also, when you split out Bakersfield, you find that it's unemployment rate is closer to the state's rate, about 7.5 percent, so it's not as sick as when you just look at the county data."

Added Evans: "Our studies help us understand what's going on in the community, and the journal helps us provide that information to the community."

A subscription to the Kern Economic Journal costs $40 per year. For a free initial copy or more information about any of the studies published in the journal, please call the Center for Economic Education and Research at 661/664-2460. You can also visit the journal's website at www.csub.edu/kej.

# # #