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Kern economy steady
  August 17, 2006
CONTACT:
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, jloveless@csub.edu

Kern County's economy continued upward in the second quarter of 2006, although some economic indicators showed soft spots, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

The county's economy expanded at a 3.2 percent annual rate, adding $100 million of personal income, with personal income per worker increasing to $48,860, said Abbas Grammy, professor of applied economics at CSUB and publisher of the Kern Economic Journal.

The county's consumer confidence edged up another three points during the quarter, but Mark Evans, associate dean and economics professor, said his survey showed an undercurrent of concern. "The consumer sentiment index's modest rise in the second quarter masks an undercurrent of anxiety," he said. "The sub-index focusing on the current financial situation is near its all-time high, but the sub-index reflecting future expectations is near its all-time low. This reflects an uncertainty in the economy among consumers."

The business outlook survey also reflected some uncertainty. While Kern County businesses are still confident about local economic conditions, Grammy said, for the second consecutive quarter their optimism has weakened. The index decreased six points from 137 in the first quarter to 131 in the second quarter. While pro-growth activities and greater demand for agricultural services brightened business owners' outlook, higher oil and gasoline prices plus the real-estate downturn tempered it.

On the plus side, the county's jobless rate during the quarter fell by one percentage point percent to a quarterly figure of 7.8 percent. Bakersfield's rate also declined, dropping 0.8 percent to 5.4 percent. Other county unemployment figures below the county average include Ridgecrest at 4.3 percent, Tehachapi at 5.1 percent, and Taft at 7.5 percent. The traditional pockets of high unemployment, while showing some improvement, continued, with Arvin posting 21.8 percent unemployment, Delano 21.1 McFarland 16.8 and Lamont 14.3.

Grammy said the county's economy continues to be encouraging despite the soft spots. He said it marked the sixth quarter in a row that the county's unemployment rate was in single digits.

The latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal also includes a profile of Bob Stine, president and CEO of Tejon Ranch Co.; a report on "Transportation Impacts and local Economic Activity," by Ronald E. Brummett of Kern Council of Governments; and a look at "Job Creation in Kern County" by Grammy.

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) 654-2466, or e-mail Grammy at agrammy@csub.edu. You can also visit the journal's website at www.csub.edu/kej.

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