Econ report cites solid Kern economy

March 1, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

Kern County's economy grew at a rapid 3.6 percent rate while business's confidence in local economic conditions held steady in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

The county's economic growth nearly matched the 4 percent rate recorded in the third quarter, adding $140 million of personal income, with personal income per worker increasing to $49,150, said Abbas Grammy, professor of applied economics at CSUB, and publisher of the Kern Economic Journal.

The county's jobless rate edged up slightly to 6.9 percent, but remained near historic lows, Grammy said. The county's economy added 6,700 jobs in the fourth quarter, the fourth consecutive quarter of increasing employment. The fact that the county's jobless rate remained below 7 percent was encouraging to Grammy, who noted that even the historic areas of high unemployment held fairly steady in a quarter that traditionally sees farm employment dip.

Bakersfield's jobless rate also rose slightly during the quarter, moving to 4.9 percent. Other county unemployment figures below the county average include Ridgecrest at 3.9 percent, Tehachapi at 4.6 percent, California City at 5.4 percent, and Taft at 6.8 percent. The traditional county pockets of high unemployment showed little fluctuation, with Arvin posting 20.1 percent unemployment, less than 1 percentage point deterioration; Delano 19.4 percent, up 0.7 percent; McFarland 15.4 percent, up 0.6 percent; and Lamont 13 percent, up 0.5 percent. Shafter and Wasco were at 12.9 percent and 13.5 percent respectively.

The county's consumer confidence edged up two points during the quarter. Mark Evans, associate dean and economics professor, said his survey continued to show "a sharp contrast between household assessments of current conditions and future expectations." Two thirds of consumers in the survey said they were better off than a year ago, but only a third thought it was a safe time to buy durable goods or expensive items.

The business outlook survey ended its year-long slide, holding steady for the quarter. "Kern County businesses still feel confident about local economic conditions," Grammy said. The index stayed at 124 in the fourth quarter.

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

The latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal also includes an article on "Leadership for the Common Good," by R. Steven Daniels, CSUB professor of public policy and administration; a look at "Smart Growth Planning Principles," by Craig Kelsey, public policy professor and dean of CSUB's Extended University; an analysis of "Job Creation through Transportation Investment," by Ronald E. Brummett, head of the Kern Council of Governments; and a review of the new book "A Good Day's Work: Sustaining Ethical Behavior and Business Success," by public policy professor Chandra Commuri.

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 You can also visit the journal's website at