UCLA: Dismal outlook for California's inland areas
In their quarterly analysis of California's economic prospects, UCLA researchers are particularly downbeat on the outlook for inland areas that were powered for years by growing populations and booming housing markets.
Areas such as the Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley are unlikely to rebound until the latter part of this decade -- in large part, UCLA says, because there is so little need for new homes to be built.
(Here's a thumbnail synopsis of the UCLA report.)
Home construction was propelled by two broad forces during boom times, according to UCLA.
First, demand for reasonably priced homes from people who worked in urban or coastal areas but couldn't afford to buy there. Second, demand from people moving in from other states in search of promising job prospects.
Both trends are reversing, according to the report released today by UCLA's Anderson School of Management.
Though homes in Corona and Lancaster are certainly cheaper than a few years ago, so are homes in urban and coastal communities. And given the fear over gas prices, many workers are choosing to buy homes closer to where they work.
Also, some people in inland areas who have lost a home to foreclosure are less likely to rent another home there, according to UCLA. Instead, they'll simply rent apartments closer to jobs or family.
And given the dim job prospects in inland areas, fewer people are expected to migrate to California, according to UCLA. Unemployment rates in inland areas are among the highest in the country -- hardly a lure for out-of-staters seeking better lives.
"Inland California labor markets are, at least visually, less attractive than those in Texas, Utah or Virginia," according to the UCLA report. "An unemployed autoworker in Ohio or construction worker in Nevada [are] not likely to decide to move to Stockton or Ontario in search of a job when all the information available suggests that Dallas, Salt Lake City and Newport News provide better prospects," wrote Jerry Nickelsburg, a UCLA senior economist.
-- Walter Hamilton
Photo: A sign advertises a 2009 auction of a foreclosed home in the Inland Empire. Credit: Associated Press.