California faces double-digit jobless rates until 2011, and its economy is so feeble the state will be mired in a slump even after the nation starts to stagger into recovery, a report scheduled for release today predicts.
"Unemployment is only going to get worse," a report from the UCLA Anderson Forecast said in its assessment of the state job market.
The jobless rate in California will jump to 12.2 percent by late this year, up from the 11.9 percent recorded in July. Unemployment statewide will remain in double digits throughout 2010 and into 2011, predicted Jerry Nickelsburg, a senior economist with the Anderson Forecast, which is releasing its quarterly economic outlook today.
"California will not recover as quickly as the nation in the near term," Nickelsburg said in an interview.
That's because so many of the problems that unleashed a savage recession on the nation — the slumps in housing, manufacturing, retail and financial services — are major industries in California.
"The downside is unemployment," the Anderson Forecast stated. "The numbers are ugly to say the least and will remain so for some time."
The Anderson economists likened California to someone left behind at an airport, watching a departure.
"Will California once again be waving from the tarmac as the U.S. economy takes off?" the Anderson report asked. The study's response was grim: "The answer seems to be, at least initially, yes."
California in the next year or so must also face the onset of job losses for state government, Nickelsburg said. Budget constraints are anticipated to trigger a loss of employees at state agencies.
"You will see a loss of jobs in state government as a derivative from the deep recession," Nickelsburg said. "
The dismal short-term prospects for California contrast with a hopeful pronouncement about a possible end of the recession — coupled with a warning about a sour job market — from Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke.
From a technical perspective, the recession is very likely over at this point," Bernanke said during a question-and-answer session Tuesday. "It's still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time because many people will still find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was."
The Anderson economists warned that, even nationwide, the effects of the recession will linger and taint consumers' and lenders' habits and attitudes for years to come.
Because of the downturn, the vast majority of consumers appear to fall into be major categories, David Shulman, a senior economist with the Anderson Forecast, said in an interview.
"You have consumers who can't spend, can no longer buy houses, are maxed out on credit cards, or have had their credit card limits severely cut back," Shulman said. "Then you have consumers who have the ability to spend, but won't do so."
Squeamish lenders could further hobble the economy.
"Lenders are not willing to lend and even if they wanted to lend, you have a whole bunch of folks who don't want to borrow," Shulman said.
Still, some encouraging signs have emerged lately, even in California, Nickelsburg said in his report:
Some of California's traditionally strong industries could begin to propel growth in the state, he said. But that might take one to three years to materialize.
"High technology, computers, trade, alternative energy, medical technology will be driving the California economy," Nickelsburg said. "These industries and investments in energy and infrastructure should help California grow more rapidly than the U.S., once we get past the problems in state government."