The upsides and downsides of the Inland Empire’s economic expansion will be addressed at the Inland Empire Economic Forecast Conference on November 6th, hosted by the UCR School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting & Development.
For decades the Inland Empire has played the role of a bedroom community for Southern California’s economy and a large share of the local labor force still drives to major employment centers to the south or west on a daily basis. But the balance of economic activity in the region has changed dramatically over the course of the expansion since the ‘Great Recession’. Some of these changes are for the good, and others have created thorny challenges to economic growth.
On the upside, the Inland Empire has experienced the strongest local job growth in Southern California. The region has seen a greater expansion in payroll employment since the end of the recession, and over the past year was still enjoying the most rapid job growth in the southern part of the state. Where’s the downside? As employment has surged, expansion of the local housing stock has been woefully slow relative to past cycles and relative to the current pace of job expansion. Currently, building permit applications are running at a pace that is one-quarter of what it was in 2005 and 2006.
Housing scarcity is a natural barrier to growth in the labor force and the Inland Empire’s lack of work force growth has led to the tightest labor market the region has ever experienced, with an unemployment rate of 4.1%, lower than in Los Angeles County. Employers are already finding it difficult to fill positions—and that situation will likely intensify unless there is a surge in new construction locally.
Why hasn’t the Inland Empire’s housing stock grown along with demand as it has in past economic expansions? What does the shortage mean for local housing prices and demographics, given that employers across Southern California are competing for a limited supply of workers?
These are the questions the 2019 Inland Empire Economic Forecast Conference will answer, with insights from some of the nation’s leading economists and local business and government leaders.
Register and learn more about the conference at https://conference.economicforecasting.org/