TURLOCK — Employment is improving in the San Joaquin Valley and is expected to exceed pre-recession levels by 2016, according to a report by Gökçe Soydemir, the Foster Farms Endowed Professor of Business Economics at California State University, Stanislaus.
In fact, Soydemir said employment reached an all-time high in the third quarter of 2013 with 1,613,166 people holding jobs.
That piece of bright news was highlighted in Soydemir’s midyear update to his annual Business Forecast Report, which looks at economic trends in the eight major Metropolitan Statistical Areas of the San Joaquin Valley: Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Madera-Chowchilla, Fresno, Visalia-Porterville, Hanford-Corcoran and Bakersfield-Delano.
According to Soydemir, job numbers for all the counties in the Valley grew above 1.2 percent per year, but the fastest-growing counties were Merced and Madera.
Construction employment posted the highest growth numbers in 2013, followed by wholesale trade employment.
While employment in the Valley has grown, the same cannot be said for wages, Soydemir’s team found. After posting increases of 2.02 and 1.55 percent in 2011 and 2012, respectively, average weekly wages in the Valley dropped by 0.04 percent in 2013. Projections for the next two years point to small increases of about 0.15 percent per year.
Here are other highlights from the report:
- Home values up
Home values continue to climb sharply, increasing by more than 18 percent in 2013, the forecast said. While significant increases are expected to continue — with a projection of 20 percent annually through the first half of 2016 — they are likely to settle into a steadier rate of growth in the years to follow. Housing permits also grew significantly in 2013, and foreclosures dropped to pre-recession levels and are projected to remain low.
- Bank deposits grow steadily
Bank deposits continued to grow at rate of 4.64 percent in 2013, similar to the growth rates of 2011 and 2012. While still below the 10-year benchmark rate of 7 percent, the 2013 growth was significant enough to extend loans and leases to finance continuing economic recovery in the Valley, according to the forecast.
- Drought’s impact
Incoming numbers as of the first quarter of 2014 have not reflected the impact of drought to a significant degree. However, the impact is already being felt in higher meat and dairy prices at the grocery store. With conditions already bad, another year of drought may derail farm-related business indicators.