Jobless rates in the Northern San Joaquin Valley will stay at comparatively low levels though 2020, forecasters at the University of the Pacific said Wednesday.
The roughly 10 percent level is about double current statewide and national figures, but far from the upper teens the region’s workers endured in the worst of the Great Recession.
The numbers are in the latest quarterly forecast from the Stockton school’s Center for Business and Policy Research. It shows job creation generally keeping pace with the number of people in the workforce in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties.
“Economies don’t always have a smooth path, but right now we’re projecting a relatively steady trend,” center Director Jeff Michael said Wednesday.
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The forecast shows continued recovery in home construction, which plummeted during the downturn, and in personal income.
Stanislaus County’s annual jobless rate peaked at 16.9 percent in 2010 and but was back to a pre-recession level of 9.5 percent last year. The forecast shows 9 to 9.6 percent through 2020.
Merced County had a high of 17.9 percent in the recession but was down to 11.4 percent last year. The economists predict rates between 9.4 and 10.3 percent over the next four years.
San Joaquin County peaked at 16.5 percent, settled to 8.9 percent last year and is projected at 7.9 to 8.3 percent for the rest of the decade.
Michael said the booming economy in the Bay Area is having a spillover effect in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, especially San Joaquin County. He also noted the growth of sectors beyond farming and a shift to more year-round rather than seasonal work in agriculture.
Merced County has seen growth in food processing and other manufacturing, including the former Castle Air Force Base, said Mark Hendrickson, the county’s director of commerce, aviation and economic development.
“We are seeing good interest from companies both in and outside of California looking to grow and expand their business ventures,” he said.
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By the numbers
$45,600: Per capita income projected for Stanislaus County in 2020, up from $39,300 this year
$42,200: Income for Merced County in 2020, up from $36,400
$44,900: Income for San Joaquin County in 2020, up from $38,900
2,284: Housing starts projected for Stanislaus County in 2020, up from 400 this year
1,263: Housing starts in Merced County in 2020, up from 469
3,646: Housing starts in San Joaquin County in 2020, up from 2,212
Source: University of the Pacific Center for Business and Policy Research