California stands to gain some jobs this year but recovery will be sluggish, and the state's inland areas will bear the brunt of the continuing economic pain, according to a forecast scheduled to be released Tuesday by UCLA's Anderson School of Business.
The state's unemployment rate will average 12.1% this year, economists said, and will not return to single-digit levels until 2012.
"We're going to have slow growth this year, accelerating in 2011 and 2012," said Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast.
California's recovery will depend heavily on the behavior of shoppers across the country. Retail spending drives traffic at Southern California's ports and in its inland logistics centers, which are major regional employers. But U.S. consumers are unlikely to splurge until businesses start hiring again, which will happen only gradually. The U.S. unemployment rate will decline slowly to 8.6% by 2012, according to the UCLA forecast, with U.S. gross domestic product growth staying below 3% in 2011 and 2012.
In California, growth in healthcare, education and technology will be strongest in coastal areas, economists said. Inland areas will be dragged down by their excess housing inventory and state budget cuts, which will affect rural inland areas where government workers make up a significant percentage of the workforce.