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Chapman forecasts modest O.C. job growth

Federal outlook positive as long as cheap money policies continue, Doti says in Costa Mesa speech.

June 12, 2013|By Bradley Zint

There was some good news and bad news, for both Orange County and the nation, presented Wednesday morning during the midyear update of Chapman University's annual Economic Forecast.

One tidbit of local good fortune? Construction jobs, fueled by a strong housing demand and recent home building spike, continue to display the highest rate of growth compared with other industries, said economist Esmael Adibi, who heads the private university's A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research.

Furthermore, all other job fields in the county — with the exception of civilian positions with the federal government — are anticipated to add jobs in 2013-14, Adibi said.

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Wednesday's midyear update followed the university's predictions presented in November, which included small gains in job growth, consumer spending and home prices. The event, which the Daily Pilot and other entities sponsor, was held in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.

Adibi also predicted 32,000 more jobs in Orange County and 307,000 jobs in California this year, for a growth rate of 2.3% and 2.1%, respectively.

Since the fourth quarter of 2009 to the end of 2012, some 64,000 payroll jobs have been added in the county — an improvement that is still lower than the peak, pre-recessionary level, he said.

However, because of the numerous military bases and defense contractors based in California, the state will likely take a large hit as federal defense spending is cut, Adibi said.

He also called California's estimated $328-billion unfunded employee pension liability, an amassed figure from state and local governments, "the biggest fundamental problem that we're facing, at least for the next few years." Adibi said that liability was based on the pensions achieving a 5.5% annual investment return.

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National forecast

An undercurrent during the midyear update for the nation's economy took its cue from an unexpected place: a recent line on "The Bold and the Beautiful."

It went something like this: "An economic forecast is like aloha. If it doesn't mean hello, it means goodbye."

Chapman University President James Doti paraphrased the line taken from the CBS television soap opera, where he played "Mr. Chapman" in a brief scene that aired in May.

Proud of his daytime television appearance and the YouTube video that highlights it, Doti repeated it Wednesday morning and used it alongside his predictions.

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