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UCLA economic forecast: Calif. recovers slowly

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new economic forecast for the state of California points to signs the state is recovering from the recession, but very slowly. And it is not very optimistic about the jobs situation in the near future."Green" jobs, such as installing or making solar panels, have become almost a religion with many politicians. According to the prestigious UCLA Anderson Forecast, it's more of a politically correct fashion trend. And everyone wants to be a trend-setter.

The pessimistic forecast about green jobs was given to economists during the release of the UCLA Anderson Forecast: Green isn't going to drive the economy.

"If you look out over the next 10 years, what's projected is growth in green jobs, but not enormous growth in green jobs," said UCLA Senior Economist Dr. Jerry Nickelsburg.

The Verdugo Jobs Center is packed with job-hunters looking for anything that pays.

Richard Bentancourt has spent his life as a mechanic, but at 65, he can't find a job now.

"I've been searching real hard," said Betancourt. "It's been a constant battle because a lot of places are too slow because of the economy right now."

Vera Mancath is an out-of-work hairdresser living in a homeless shelter.

"I have had an experience when I went to talk to a manager, and I was too old to work in a shop," said Mancath. "She prefers 29-year-olds."

During the recession, California lost more than a million jobs, 400,000 in construction. Especially in places like the Inland Empire and the Central Valley, there are no signs of a significant increase in residential construction.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been slow. Goods brought into them are not doing a lot to kick-start the economy. People aren't spending.

"Job growth is going to lag and job growth is going to be slow through this year, so the unemployment rate is not going to come down very rapidly," said Nickelsburg.

The forecast predicts the economy will continue to slowly recover. But there won't be enough job growth to drop unemployment to single digits until 2011.

One economic forecaster calls it a "bipolar economy." Economic growth is continuing, showing some improvement, but job growth is not improving.