Notes from an improving economy: California

Remember when the U.S. economy was nosediving and California was the laughing stock of the country for its budget woes?

I remember one particular Facebook debate in which various doom-and-gloom commenters were painting the darkest possible scenario for the state.

But I heard California become far less the butt of jokes as the economy soured here in Georgia and elsewhere. As it turned out, relatively austere state governments in the South were also pounded by job losses, declines in retail sales, and steep declines in tax revenues.

The idea of California’s endless decline never made any sense. It’s a big, unwieldy state, yes, but it has a history of invention and reinvention. It’s a state of great wealth and incredible diversity. The educational institutions are of high caliber. The state’s diverse geography and large population guarantees a diverse economy.


Calculated Risk: California: Unemployment Rate falls to 10.1% in October, Payroll jobs increase 45,800


Recently I’ve been talking to a few friends from around the country, and they all seemed unaware that the California economy is clearly improving. California is seeing a pickup in employment, the delinquency rate is falling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if California reports a balanced budget soon.

Note: when the MBA quarterly delinquency data was released earlier this week, Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, said there has been “dramatic” improvement in California and Arizona.

California remains one of just three states with a double digit unemployment rate — Nevada and Rhode Island are the other two — but the economy is improving steadily.