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Thursday, Jun 13, 2024

The Number

Call it a self-inflicted wound – or at least that’s a good part of the story behind Ventura County’s sorry employment numbers. The wealthy area isn’t expected to reach its pre-recession job levels until the third quarter of 2018, or perhaps even later, according to a report by economist Bill Watkins of the Cal Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting. As of September, the county had 316,600 jobs, or 6,600 fewer jobs than it had in October 2007, and the report finds there are multiple factors holding back job growth despite the resurgent national economy. It doesn’t help that up to 17,000 jobs are associated with the U.S. Navy’s operations in the county and additional defense cutbacks are looming. Also dragging down expected job growth is the difficulty in replacing losses in the financial sector, which boomed with the growth of lender Countrywide Financial Services – and then imploded. Even the strong health care sector is suspect. While the report expects health care will be a job-growth driver, its effect might be limited due to the Affordable Care Act. Better known as ObamaCare, the act includes incentives to trim medical job growth, seen as a key factor behind health care inflation. But what frustrates Watkins the most is the difficulty in creating new jobs in manufacturing, due to slow-growth sentiments and an increasing number of restrictions on development on farm land. “The single most important reason that job creation is difficult in Ventura County is that the majority of Ventura County voters don’t want to see large numbers of new jobs created,” Watkins writes in the report. “Indeed, it is probably impossible to receive approval for any project that would employ a thousand or more people in Ventura County,” he concludes. – Laurence Darmiento

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