Orange County Business Journal

Chapman Forecast: 21,000 New Jobs in 2012

Jane Yu Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Orange County is poised for higher employment growth next year, with several sectors expected to fuel the gain.

The George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University in Orange projects an additional 21,000 jobs here next year, which would be a 1.6% increase on the county’s base about 1.36 million jobs.

OC is expected to finish this year up 13,000 jobs, a gain of about 1%.

The biggest boost in 2012 is expected from the services sector, with 15,000 new jobs projected in Chapman’s annual economic forecast, released today. More than a third of that is projected from professional and business services.

The construction industry is expected to add about 1,800 jobs next year, a 2.6% boost.

The three sectors of manufacturing—durable goods, non-durable goods and high technology—are all likely to boost employment. The Chapman report forecast a combined increase of 820 jobs in manufacturing here.

Some other sectors are expected to rebound after shedding jobs this year.

Trade, transportation and utilities will likely increase employment by about 2,800. The sector cut 300 jobs this year.

State and local government is expected to add more than 1,000 jobs in 2012 after cutting about the same number this year.

Federal government employment is the only sector that’s expected to see significant cuts next year, shrinking by about 300 jobs. It has shed about 1,000 jobs this year.

The financial services sector is expected to be about flat.

A glut of houses on the market and continued foreclosures will remain a drag on the economy next year, according to the forecast. The report said tough lending standards are contributing to the large number of unsold homes and high commercial vacancy rates, which have in turn driven construction spending to the bottom in the past few years.

The report indicated that housing has about reached bottom, however.

Construction spending is expected to rise for the first time in a few years, with a 5.6% gain in 2012. Single-family home prices is expected to stay flat here, while falling 2.5% statewide.

Personal income is likely to climb in 2012. It grew about 4% this year and is projected to increase 5% next year, with a 3% rate of inflation projected.

Local taxable spending is expected to increase by 5.7% next year, from a 6% growth rate this year.

Chapman economists attributed the 2011 gains to a surge in automobile purchases.