The Central Coast labor market is growing at a rate faster than the state’s, led by an all-time high in nonfarm employment, according to analysis from the Central Coast Economic Forecast.
About 400 people flocked to the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo on Nov. 6 for the annual forecast. Chris Thornberg and Jordan Levine of Los Angeles-based research firm Beacon Economics provided their economic insight as well as Seth Mattison, the founder of consulting company FutureSight Labs.
San Luis Obispo County is still in expansion mode. Employment, real estate, venture capital, construction and spending are increasing, spurred by growth in housing, tourism, wine and technology industries.
Emerging sections include computer systems design, software and electronic markets.
“Our current forecast strikes an optimistic tone and calls for continued growth in the county’s labor market, real estate market, spending, and population growth,” the report reads. “Growth rates may not be as robust as in the past, but the current data tells a promising story.”
In order to maintain that growth, the region must support the technology sector as well as residential development, including affordable and workforce units, speakers said. Other challenges include recruiting skilled workers, improving aging infrastructure and managing water resources.
It’s a broad-based recovery in terms of San Luis Obispo County job growth, with the exception of professional services and finance occupations ticking slightly down. The construction industry saw the biggest improvement over the past year, which had a 15.2 percent increase in total employment, followed by wholesale trade that grew 7 percent. Some of the region’s biggest employment sectors, education and health, rose 6 percent.
Employment countywide jumped an average 3.1 percent from 2013 to 2014. The city of San Luis Obispo added more than 2,000 jobs.
Wages are also rising. They increased an average of 2.5 percent across the board in the county from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of this year. Much of that growth stems from professional services, like architecture and engineering, that have an average annual salary of $83,761.
The housing market, tourism, spending and the commercial market are all moving in the right direction, the speakers said.
“Countywide home prices are anticipated to grow in the 10 percent range over the next two years fueled by historically low mortgage rates and a tight supply in the local market,” the report reads.
On the other hand, solar installation is winding down. Also, despite increased home construction, there is still a close to a 1,300-unit housing shortage in San Luis Obispo County.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics came out with its employment numbers on Nov. 6 as well. Wage increases and job growth outpaced analysts’ expectations as California added 271,000 new jobs in October.
As a result of continued economic expansion, some expect the Federal Reserve to make its first interest rate hike in years in December.
• Contact Alex Kacik at [email protected]