The number of jobs in Stanislaus County is expected to increase this year for the first time since 2007, another sign the Northern San Joaquin Valley is slowly recovering from its long, deep recession.
This is one of the predictions released Wednesday by the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton in its latest report on the state economy.
The report forecasts job growth of 1.2 percent for Stanislaus County, followed by growth of 2.3 percent in 2013, 1.7 percent in 2014 and 2 percent in 2015.
The last time Stanislaus experienced job growth was 2007, and it was a meager 0.2 percent, said Jeff Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center.
The center predicts that California will continue its slow recovery, with the state economy growing 2.5 percent this year, 2 percent in 2013, 2.9 percent in 2014 and 3.7 percent in 2015.
The center expects job growth statewide will ease from 1.8 percent this year to 1.6 percent in 2013.
"We don't see 2013 as being a real strong year," Michael said. "It will be the fourth year in a row of slow, frustrating recovery. But by 2014, we expect growth to accelerate."
The center predicts that California's unemployment rate will drop from 10.7 percent this year to 9.8 percent in 2013, 8.8 percent in 2014 and 7.5 percent in 2015.
The valley's rate is expected to drop over the same period, from 15.6 percent this year in Stanislaus County to 12.7 percent in 2015, from 15.2 percent to 12.7 percent in San Joaquin, and from 17.6 percent to 14.6 percent in Merced.
Michael said the valley is a relative bright spot. He pointed to Amazon as one of the reasons.
The online retailer is building its second California distribution center in Patterson, which is expected to open next year and employ several hundred workers. A distribution center of similar size recently opened in San Bernardino with 700 workers.
"Amazon is a big project for Stanislaus County and one of the reasons growth is expected to pick up," Michael said.
He said agriculture remains an economic mainstay for the county and that other economic sectors are picking up.
"For the Modesto area as a whole, we see better growth than the rest of the state," Michael said. "Most sectors of the private economy are growing. Not by leaps and bounds, but growing."
He said this good news is tempered by continued job losses in public schools and city and county government.
The Business Forecasting Center produces quarterly economic forecasts of California along with several Northern and Central California metropolitan areas.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.