Orange County Business Journal

Chapman Forecast Sees Job Gains

Jane Yu Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Orange County will continue to add jobs in nearly every sector through the rest of this year, according to a forecast from Chapman University.

Economists at A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research in Orange expect the county to add 24,135 jobs through this year for a total of 1,394,463 jobs, a 1.8% growth. The rate was revised down from a year-earlier forecast, when the economists had estimated a 2.2% gain for 2012.

Orange County now counts 1,392,900 jobs, a gain of just 1,400 so far this year. Chapman’s forecast indicates a pick-up in the second half, a period that typically includes seasonal increases in sectors such as hospitality during the summer and retail toward year’s end.

Local job growth is likely to come at a faster clip next year—at 2%—with a gain of more than 28,000 expected by Chapman’s economists.

Orange County is expected to outpace California as a whole on job gains this year and next. The Chapman report, authored by school President James Doti and Esmael Adibi, director of the Anderson Center, estimated a statewide gain of 1.4% this year and 1.6% in 2013.

The construction sector is expected to grow at a substantial rate in Orange County this year, with a gain of more than 2,740 jobs.

“The brunt of the construction nosedive has already been felt in terms of lower employment and spending levels,” the report said. “The current rebound in construction should positively affect employment in this sector.”

Chapman’s economists expect “above-average job growth” here in the professional and business services sector, with 6,900 more jobs expected, for a 2.8% increase. Education and health services are seen adding 4,070 jobs, for 2.6% increase.

The federal government is expected to lose jobs here amid budget deficits and growing national debt.

Doti also highlighted the “clear signs that conditions are growing ripe for a meaningful housing recovery in 2013,” and took an optimistic view on the clearing-out process of foreclosures and delinquent homes.

“Banks will be moving those houses quickly,” he said.

Orange County’s average median single-family home price is expected to increase by 2% this year, and by 7.1% next year, mainly due to a decline in the supply of resale homes that are stressed properties and typically cheaper.

Taxable sales from local businesses are expected to grow at 6% this year and slightly faster next year, with most of the gains coming from sales of new motor vehicles.