Orange County Business Journal

Chapman Forecast: 35,000 More Jobs in 2014

Jane Yu Monday, November 25, 2013

Orange County businesses will add about 35,000 jobs in 2014, hiring at a slightly faster pace than this year, according to a forecast by economists at Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics.

The A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at the Orange-based school held its 36th annual economic forecast event Monday at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

The center’s research included analyses and prospects for the coming year for Orange County, California and the U.S. in a number of categories, including employment, housing prices and taxable spending.

The study described the overall economy as “stuck in low gear” and pointed to a “year of weak economic growth” in 2014.

Chapman economists projected OC’s employment base will reach about 1,464,000 jobs, up 2.5% from the estimated total for 2013 of 1,428,935, which reflects a 2% increase from 2012.

OC is expected to outpace California and the U.S. in job gains: The number of jobs will grow by about 2.3% in the state and by about 1.7% nationwide.

Most of the hiring in OC will be in the services sector, specifically in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and education and health.

Chapman’s economic report projected “not a burst, but a cool-off” of housing prices next year, estimating “a significant slowdown in home price appreciation” due to a “decline in the investors pool, lower housing affordability and increasing supply of new and resale housing units.”

Single-family home prices are expected to increase by 5.6% in OC, versus a double-digit growth in 2013.

Construction spending is likely to continue increasing for the rest of this year and “well into 2014,” according to the study, which estimated the total value of building permits to increase by 15% in OC.

Construction-related expenses also are likely to help boost jobs in the sector, the forecast said. The local construction businesses are likely to add more than 4,600 jobs next year, a growth of more than 6%.

Personal spending also will increase by more than 6% in Orange County next year, compared with a growth of 5.8% this year.

The Chapman study looked at the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act on the healthcare industry in California, primarily in long-term employment in medical-device and drug-manufacturing companies.

The report said no “significant marginal gains” are expected as a result of the act’s implementation, citing “extreme productivity” of the sector that could satisfy additional demand for products.