H-SANTA MARIA

May 6, 2011 10:21 PM by Ariel Wesler

UCSB Economic forecast predicts slow growth for northern SB County

It's slow going for our local economy, but you can expect to see some growth.

Economic experts at UCSB released their annual economic forecast project for Northern Santa Barbara County this morning. Local economists say agriculture and professional business services will see the most growth through 20-18. The real turn of events could be in the housing market.

The economic forecast is a bit hazy and economists say it's going to a while to clear. Dr. Peter Rupert is the project's director.

"We are starting to see some growth, but it's very slow growth," Rupert said.

That's the main theme, slow but steady. Farming, professional business services, and health care will likely see the most growth in the next years. Unfortunately, economists say employment is flat and unemployment in the county hit an all time high in 2010 of 9.2 percent. Rupert says the unemployment rate should drop to around 7 percent by 20-14, but that can be misleading.

"If they're so discouraged that they drop out and don't look any longer, they are no longer counted as unemployed or in the labor force, so what would happen is the unemployment rate would fall," Rupert said.

He expects growth in the rental sector for real estate, while the housing market tries to recover.

"Many people now believe that maybe housing isn't the perfect investment for them and they might be willing to live in an apartment or a condo rather than a house," Rupert said.

Investing is the key factor with many people trying to save their cash and businesses slow to invest theirs.

"Maybe uncertainty about the current environment, the political environment, taxes, etc. . that's preventing people from spending and businesses from investing, but I expect that's going to pick up," Rupert said.

If it does, it may mean sunnier days ahead.

There is a wealth of information from the UCSB Economic Forecast Project on our website. For more information, click here.

An economic forecast for San Luis Obispo county will be held June 9th at 8:30 a.m. at the Galaxy Theatres in Atascadero.

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