MAY 20, 2003
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu

Kern Economic Journal Reports that "Bakersfield's a Bargain"

Bakersfield is a cost of living bargain, according to a cost of living study in the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

The study, by economics professor Abbas Grammy, shows that only 10 percent of the 120 California cities used in the study have a lower cost of living than Bakersfield. "Assume your income is $100,000 per year in Bakersfield, and you are contemplating relocation ... to another city in California," Grammy said. "Of the 120 cities in the study, only 12 offer average salaries less than Bakersfield. You can afford taking between $12,000 and $1,000 in salary cut and maintain your lifestyle if you move to those 12 cities."

Grammy said five major categories were used in the study, compiled by the Center for Mobility Resources using formulas provided by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics: housing costs (33 percent), utilities (8 percent), consumables (16 percent), transportation (10 percent), and other services (33 percent).

Among the 12 less expensive cities are Redding, where the cost of living is 3.8 percent less than Bakersfield; San Bernardino, 11.6 percent less; Merced, 4.9 percent less; Hanford, 3.5 percent less; Ridgecrest, 1.8 percent less; Madera, 0.6 percent less; and Palmdale, 5.6 percent less.

The rest of the state is more expensive, and in some cases considerably so. For example, it would take an income of $324,061 in Carmel to maintain the same quality of life, 224 percent more than Bakersfield. San Francisco is more than double Bakersfield's cost, as are San Mateo and Santa Cruz. San Luis Obispo is 63.7 percent more expensive than Bakersfield; San Diego is 51.2 percent more expensive, and Pismo Beach is 35 percent more expensive.

Relatively close in terms of cost of living are Oxnard, where the cost of living is 12.7 percent more than Bakersfield, Sacramento, 16.6 percent more, Paso Robles, 14.8 percent more, Fresno, 9.8 percent more; Stockton, 14.5 percent more; and Anaheim, 12.4 percent more.

In other trends reported in the Journal:

  • The Business Outlook Index rebounded slightly in the first quarter of 2003 after three quarters of declines. "The increase indicates that business managers have become less pessimistic about local business conditions," Grammy said.
  • Bakersfield's Consumer Sentiment Index continued to decline in the first quarter of 2003, although at a less precipitous rate, reported economics professor Mark Evans. The index "declined for the third straight quarter ... and suggests there was considerable pessimism prior to the Iraq war," Evans said. "It is likely that the index will rebound in the second quarter."

  • The latest issue also includes a detailed look at "Water Supply Management in Kern County," and the "Economic Impacts of ChevronTexaco on Kern County."

    The Kern Economic Journal is a quarterly publication focusing on local economic trends and developments. The journal provides the community with economic information produced by the CSUB Economics Department. "What we provide is local economic news," Grammy said. "This helps local business people make better decisions. We study local economic trends to determine how the local economy is progressing."

    A subscription to the Kern Economic Journal costs $50 per year, and $75 per year for both hard copy and online, including access to the archives. For a free initial copy or more information about any of the studies published in the journal, please call (661) 664-2466, or e-mail Grammy at agrammy@csub.edu You can also visit the journal's website at www.csub.edu/kej.