February 11, 2004
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or mstepanovich@csub.edu

Kern County’s economy continued its strong rebound, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

The Business Outlook Index rose for the fourth quarter in a row, soaring 11 percentage points over the third quarter. “This increase indicates that business managers are much more optimistic about local business conditions,” said Abbas Grammy, CSUB economics professor and publisher of the journal. “The index has gained 21 percentage points over the past four quarters. This is very good news for Kern County.”

The Bakersfield Consumer Sentiment Index rose for the third quarter in a row, increasing its index value from 114 in the third quarter to a record 143. Mark Evans, interim dean of CSUB’s extended University and an economics professor, said the previous high was 133 in the third quarter 1999. He said the increase was fueled by consumers’ optimistic view of the area’s economy. “An astounding 73 percent of those surveyed expect their household situation will be improved in a year,” he said. “Plus the number of households who thought that it’s a financially risky time declined from 16 percent to 9 percent. Our survey shows that area residents have increased their spending on discretionary items such as dining out and entertainment.”

Other trends reported in the Journal that reflect the strengthening Kern economy:

The local trends appear in step with national ones. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan told a congressional panel today (Wednesday) that the U.S. economy was poised for “a more vigorous expansion.”

And the Conference Board reported last week that the “U.S. and major world economies are on the threshold of a genuine economic boom and will likely record their best years since 1984.”

The latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal also includes a detailed look at Bakersfield’s apartment market, an analysis of Mexican restaurants contribution to Kern County’s economy, and an examination of Central California’s economic outlook.

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 $60 per year for the print issue, $80 for the electronic issue, including archives; and $100 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.