IEEP Chief Economist Manfred Keil to present State of the Region

Manfred Keil, with Lowe Institute banner.

The Inland Empire, which includes San Bernardino and Riverside counties, was the top economic performer in Southern California in 2022. It also became the 12th most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the nation and the second largest in the state.

But Manfred Keil, Chief Economist of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) and Associate Director of the Lowe Institute of Political Economy at Claremont McKenna College, expresses guarded optimism for 2023 in his annual economic report. He will present his findings when the IEEP and the San Antonio Regional Hospital co-host the State of the Region – Economic Forecast on Thursday, March 30, at the Ontario Convention Center.

“The Inland Empire has been highly successful in terms of employment and output growth, outperforming the state as a whole and almost all other major MSAs in our state,” said Keil, who is also associate professor in the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance at CMC. “But there are several alarm bells going off that the region will have to address in the near and more long-term future.”

IEEP’s mission is to serve as the two-county region’s voice for business and quality of life; it supports efforts in job creation, leadership development, and regional advocacy.

In his State of the Region report, Keil forecasts that the current national economic expansion is in the last 12-month phase of its run since May 2021. But more important to consider for the region’s outlook are environmental concerns surrounding the logistics sector, the low value-added (and hence low wages) nature of the logistics sector, and automation, which will hit this sector disproportionately hard, he said.

“If the region’s government and business leaders address these issues in the now, then their negative future impacts can be, at least, partially offset,” Keil said. “Diversifying the region’s economy to expand higher value-added sectors, such as professional and business services or the financial sector, will be crucial for the medium to longer-term success of the region. Here education of the labor force and educational institutions will have to play a pivotal role.”   

Keil specializes in economic forecasting of geographical areas. He leads the economic forecast research team at the Lowe Institute, which has held annual economic analysis and forecasting conferences in the Inland Empire since 2009. For the past five years, he has produced the annual report for the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. Keil recently co-authored a report on California Competitiveness, published by IEEP and soon to be released by the Greater Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

To learn more about the March 30 conference and to register, click here.


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