Kern's economy rebounding

August 10, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

Kern County's economy took a distinct turn for the better during 2007's second quarter, although the housing market continued to slump, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

"Kern's economic growth accelerated from 2 percent to 3.6 percent," said Abbas Grammy, professor of applied economics at CSUB, and publisher of the Kern Economic Journal. He also said the county's labor markets improved. "The county's economy created 5,900 jobs in the second quarter, which ended June 30," he said. Both the farm sector and the non-farm sector were bustling; in the non-farm labor market, both government and private sector jobs increased.

And as one might expect in an expanding economy, the jobless rate shrank. Unemployment dropped from 8.5 percent in the first quarter to 8 percent in the second quarter, continuing its stay in single-digit territory. Kern County's jobless rate has stayed in single digits now for two years, the longest stretch in at least 25 years. Grammy attributes much of this to the job-creation efforts of the Kern Economic Development Corp. Bakersfield (5.5 percent), California City (6.2 percent) and Ridgecrest (4.5 percent) had unemployment rates below the county average.

Businesses also improved their outlook, moving up to 120 on the Business Outlook Index, compared to 117 the previous quarter. "This gain in business confidence reversed the declining trend of the index over the previous five quarters," Grammy said.

Consumers, however, weren't quite as confident. The Bakersfield Consumer Sentiment Index dropped to 120, down from 125 the previous quarter. Mark Evans, interim dean of the School of Business and Public Administration and an economics professor at CSUB, characterized consumers' attitude as "ho-hum."

And if you thought the housing market was down, it is. All gauges measuring the housing market continued their downward spiral. The median housing price in both Kern County and Bakersfield was down for the third quarter in a row, housing sales were down, and new building permits were down. Adding to the gloomy housing picture, foreclosures were up, and the housing affordability index was up.

The latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal also has a detailed article by CSUB marketing professor Ron Pimentel on multi-level marketing. Pimentel concludes that it's not for everybody.

The journal includes a CEO profile of Bruce Freeman, president of Castle & Cooke's Mainland Communities Division; and an examination of "The workforce and American culture," 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 It is also available on the Web free of charge at