Economic forecast: Inland Empire economy is growing but long-term challenges remain

The Inland Empire continues to grow economically with no recession predicted for at least the next two years, according to data presented at the Southern California Economic Conference this week at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.

The numbers are steady if unspectacular. Growth in Inland Southern California was 3.8% and will be 2.5% in 2016, 2.8% in 2017, and 2.4% in 2018. The IE unemployment rate is expected to fall to 5% from 6% this year. Manfred Keil, Associate Professor at Claremont McKenna College's Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, presented data for Riverside and San Bernardino counties and said local leaders need to address two persistent needs: building a college-educated workforce and creating high-paying jobs to reduce the number of people commuting to coastal counties.

“In the past, I’ve always felt like Dr. Doom coming up,” Keil said in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “The Inland Empire last year has done very well. We are now at very low unemployment rates compared to historical levels and we have strong economic growth. … Can we now start to fix things that in a recession we won’t have the ability to do?”

A running theme at the annual conference -- hosted by the Inland Empire Center of Claremont McKenna College, a joint venture between the Lowe Institute of Political Economy and the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, in cooperation with the UCLA Anderson Forecast -- was that public perceptions of how well the economy is doing are lagging behind the data.

“You can’t go anywhere in this country and persuade people that those numbers actually reflect the health and well-being of the American political economy,” said Todd Buchholz, author and former White House senior economic adviser to President George H.W. Bush, in the keynote speech, as reported in the Daily Bulletin.

Read more about the conference:

Five takeaways from this year’s Inland economic forecast

How Wall Street, Main Street differ in voting booth

If the economy is good, why don’t we feel better?

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