KEJ reports economy is slowing

February 15, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720,

Kern County's economy slowed in the fourth quarter of 2007 as both consumers and businesses expressed less confidence about their employment and financial conditions, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

The county's rate of economic growth slipped to 1.6 percent, down from the 2.6 percent rate in the third quarter of 2007.

"The labor market showed mixed results as the number of non-farm jobs grew by 5,900, while the number of farming jobs and informal or self-employed workers fell by 7,900," said Abbas Grammy, professor of economics at CSUB and publisher of the Kern Economic Journal. "Industries such as wholesale and retail trade, health care and social assistance, and government added jobs. But, as you might expect given our slumping housing market, construction, manufacturing, financial activities and other similar industries reduced employment."

The county's housing market remained soft on both price and volume, with the median housing prices plummeting $9,400 (6.7 percent) from $252,000 in the third quarter to $242,600. The number of homes sold in the county and the number of building permits issued for the construction of new homes both decreased. Conversely, the county's foreclosure activity accelerated with 435 more homeowners receiving notices of loan default.

"The good news is that employers expect to hire at a steady pace during the first quarter of 2008," Grammy added. "Of the employers we surveyed, 13 percent expect to hire more employees, while none expected to reduce their payrolls. The majority of business managers we interviewed 58 percent felt that economic conditions would be unchanged next quarter. But, 31 percent anticipated the economy would get better. There is guarded optimism going into 2008."

The cautious business outlook appears to carry over to consumers. In the fourth quarter of 2007, consumer confidence wavered slightly. The Bakersfield Index of Consumer Sentiment decreased from 115 in the third quarter to the most recent rate of 111.

"Nationally the consumer sentiment is abysmal," said Mark Evans, interim dean of the School of Public Administration and economics professor at CSUB. "Bakersfield households are not as pessimistic relative to the nation's average household."

In addition to economic news, the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal includes a CEO profile of Jay Rosenlieb, managing partner of Klein, DeNaale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb & Kimball, LLP. Employers struggling to recruit qualified employees will appreciate the tips provided by CSUB management professor Diane Decker in the article "Who is swimming in your applicant pool?"

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."

This quarter's report is available free of charge on the journal's website at Dr. Grammy can be reached at (661) 654-2466 or by e-mail at