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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Update: The Inland Empire Bust and Recovery

by Calculated Risk on 1/10/2018 10:09:00 AM

Way back in 2006 I disagreed with some analysts on the outlook for the Inland Empire in California. I wrote:

As the housing bubble unwinds, housing related employment will fall; and fall dramatically in areas like the Inland Empire. The more an area is dependent on housing, the larger the negative impact on the local economy will be.

So I think some pundits have it backwards: Instead of a strong local economy keeping housing afloat, I think the bursting housing bubble will significantly impact housing dependent local economies.
And sure enough, the economies of housing dependent areas like the Inland Empire were devastated during the housing bust. The good news is the Inland Empire is expanding solidly now.

Inland Empire Employment Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the unemployment rate for the Inland Empire (using MSA: Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario), and also the number of construction jobs as a percent of total employment.

The unemployment rate is falling, and is down to 4.1% (down from 14.4% in 2010). And construction employment is up from the lows (as a percent of total employment), but still well below the bubble years.

So the unemployment rate has fallen to a record low, but the economy isn't as heavily depending on construction. Overall the Inland Empire economy is in much better shape today.

Inland Empire, California, US Construction EmploymentThe second graph shows the number of construction jobs as a percent of total employment for the Inland Empire, all of California, and the entire U.S..

Clearly the Inland Empire is more dependent on construction than most areas. Construction has picked up as a percent of total employment, but the economy in California and the U.S. is not as dependent on construction as during the bubble years.