Kern's economic growth slows

November 27, 2007
CONTACT:
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu
 

Kern County's economy took a negative turn during 2007's third quarter and the housing market continued to weaken, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

"Kern's economic growth slowed from 3.6 percent to 2.4 percent," said Abbas Grammy, professor of applied economics at CSUB, and publisher of the Kern Economic Journal. He also said the county's labor market showed mixed results. "The county's labor force increased by 4,500 workers and total employment grew by 5,600, including 11,300 more farm jobs, but 3,400 less non-farm jobs, and 2,300 less jobs in the market for self-employed workers and those working outside the county."

The jobless rate shrank once again. Unemployment dropped from 8 percent in the second quarter to 7.6 percent in the third quarter, continuing its stay in single-digit territory. Still below the county average, the rate of unemployment dropped from 4.5 to 4.3 percent in Ridgecrest; from 5.5 to 5.2 percent in Bakersfield; and from 6.2 to 5.9 percent in California City.

Businesses have become less optimistic about the economic conditions of Kern County; the Business Outlook Index fell 4 percentage points from 120 to 116. Grammy said this decline might be attributed to several factors according to local businesses including the continued slump in the residential real estate market, forcing lenders out of business, and rising prices of produce and fuel.

Consumer confidence fell once again. The Bakersfield Consumer Sentiment Index dropped to 115, down from 120 the previous quarter. Mark Evans, interim dean of the School of Business and Public Administration and an economics professor at CSUB, reported these numbers as the lowest reading in two years.

"In the third quarter of 2007, Kern County's housing market remained in a recessionary mode both on price and volume sides," Grammy said. All gauges measuring the housing market continued their downward spiral. The median housing price, housing sales, and building permits for the construction of new privately-owned dwellings were down. Adding to the gloomy housing picture, foreclosures were up resulting in more homeowners receiving notices of loan default from their mortgage bankers.

The latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal also has a detailed article by CSUB professor Donavan Ropp, director of the Business Research and Education Center on negotiating in business.

The journal includes a CEO profile of Richard Beene, president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian; and examines "Preparing a Voter Opinion and Behavior Study," by Craig Kelsey, professor of public policy and administration at CSUB, and dean of CSUB's Extended University.

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."

Copies are available by calling Grammy at (661) 654-2466, or by e-mail at agrammy@csub.edu. It is also available on the Web free of charge at www.csub.edu/kej.