The economic recovery for California will be delayed until the end of 2011, later than anticipated just a few months ago, according to analysts who released a quarterly outlook for the state and nation today.

However, by that time, the rate of job growth in the Golden State should gallop ahead of the nationwide pace, said economists who produced the closely watched UCLA Anderson Forecast.

For now, however, things look bleak for the statewide economy, the forecast predicted.

"The outlook is slightly weaker for California in the near term," said Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist with the forecast. "Things are getting a bit weaker."

California's wobbly economy is being further burdened by the moribund market for residential construction and skittish consumers.

"There is nothing happening in housing," Nickelsburg said.

Previously, the forecast had anticipated a rebound during the first six months of 2011. That predicted upswing has now been shoved further into the future.

"2010 and 2011 look a little bit weaker, and a rebound is being pushed back to late 2011 or 2012," Nickelsburg said.

Still, the darker picture does not mean that California or the nation will topple back into a recession.

"All the evidence suggests that California is ever so slowly coming out of the recession," according to the forecast.

The specter of a double-dip downturn has spooked economists and haunted financial markets lately.


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"The worst is behind us," said Brad Kemp, director of regional research with Beacon Economics. "The recession was like falling into a pool and sinking to a bottom. We have hit bottom. The question is now long will it take to get back to the surface."

UCLA Anderson isn't the only group of analysts who recently have sketched a more fragile economic outlook, said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center For Continuing Study of the California Economy.

"Many economists are pushing back the time frame when the recovery will occur," he said. "This is a slow recovery. It is an unusually slow recovery from a bad recession."

That's the rub. In recent months, job losses resumed. The renewed deterioration in employment was triggered by the departure of temporary census jobs and growth in private sector jobs that was anemic at best.

"The problem is the rate of growth is so small, it is barely perceptible," Kemp said. "It's a drop in the bucket."

Beacon's economists had predicted that decent growth would not materialize until the second half of 2011. For that reason, Kemp said he and his colleagues at Beacon weren't surprised that UCLA Anderson now has a somewhat darker outlook for the near term.

"We had also said the recovery would be extremely slow," he said.

Nevertheless, some potential bright spots -- or perhaps patches that are less dreary -- emerged from the forecast. California will fare better than the United States as measured by some key metrics.

For one thing, the state's job market will outperform the U.S. during 2011 and 2012.

The Anderson researchers said California's job base should grow by 1.7 percent during 2011, while the national job totals should expand 0.7 percent.

In 2011, personal income should rise more quickly in California than nationally. The jobless rate in California, however, will remain well above that of the United States, the forecast predicted.

Levy also suggested that the Bay Area, home to Silicon Valley, could enjoy a robust rebound at some point in 2011.

"High tech is doing pretty well, and the Bay Area is poised to do a little better than the state over the next year or two," he said.

Despite the hopeful indicators, sturdy job growth will remain elusive for some time to come, according to the forecast.

For now, employers will seek to wring every last drop of productivity out of their existing workers.

"Employers are still cautious," Nickelsburg said. "Employers want to be sure that the increases in demand are real before they invest in new workers. Until they are sure, they won't go out and hire."

Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477.

TALE OF THE TAPE
California could outperform the United States in some key benchmarks during 2011 -- although the Golden State's jobless rate will remain high, UCLA Anderson predicts.
  • Job growth: California's job base will grow 1.7 percent in 2011, compared with 0.7 percent for the U.S.
  • Personal income: Adjusted for inflation, income will rise 2.2 percent in California and 1.7 percent in the U.S. in 2011.
  • Unemployment rate: California will average 11 percent, while the U.S. will average 9.3 percent in 2011.
  • Retail sales: California should show a huge jump in taxable sales next year compared with this year. In 2011, statewide taxable sales should rise 3 percent, far ahead of the 0.1 percent increase in California during 2010.