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Forecast calls for slow growth

Economy: Despite traits giving the state, region long-term edge, no significant short-term activity

Posted: November 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.

John Blank speaks at the 23rd annual Business Forecast Conference sponsored by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and The Valley Economic Alliance at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Universal City on Friday. The theme was “The Big Economy That Should.”

Although the state and region have many inherent positive attributes that give it a long-term economic edge, any significant uptick in short-term growth will not happen for at least a year, economists speaking at a regional conference said.

The 23rd annual Business Forecast Conference, sponsored by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and The Valley Economic Alliance, was attended by hundreds of regional business officials at the Universal Hilton Hotel.

“We’re in the silly season,” said Bill Roberts, director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at California State University, Northridge, one of the economists who spoke at the event. Roberts was referring to the 2012 presidential campaign, in which candidates will posture, and little will get done on a national level to aid the economy.

“I’m looking at least a year of nothing happening and then slow growth the next four or five years,” he said about the national economy.

Roberts said that on a regional level housing and entrepreneurship are some major things that the economy is hinging upon.

Housing conditions were not going to change much and that the market would continue “bumping at the bottom.”

Developers have overbuilt and that there are more people living in each household than before, according to Roberts.

Entrepreneurs who start new businesses, he said, have been a critical factor in helping the economy get out of recessions before. Many of these new businesses were fueled by money from seconds on home mortgages. It’s harder to get seconds these days and this has slowed down the starting of new businesses during this recession, Roberts claimed.

John Blank, deputy chief economist for the Kyser Center for Economic Research of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., emphasized that despite current economic problems California has several positive attributes that gives it advantages over other states.

For instance, the state is No. 1 in access to capital, and it has a larger percentage of high-value workers, such as those employed in technology fields. California produces many valued products, Blank said. It just needs to find more markets for them.

Blank said that, regionally, Los Angeles has more entrepreneurs than San Francisco and that, overall, the state is exporting more to Asia than many other states.

He said that construction employment, which has been very soft for the past few years, is beginning to slowly rebound.


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