Rebecca U. Cho, Staff Writer
Created: 11/09/2010 05:16:40 PM PST

If the recession was a drunk man stumbling around on the sidewalk, the end of the recession was that man falling on his face. And getting up from that fall is going to take a whole lot of time and patience, said an economist Tuesday in an economic forecast for the Inland Empire.

The U.S. recession ended in June 2009, but for the man on the street, a return to better times won’t come for some time, said Christopher Thornberg, founding principal at Beacon Economics. He kicked off a forecast for the nation, state and San Bernardino and Riverside counties at the Riverside Convention Center.

“The problem here is we have different ideas of what’s the end of the recession,” said Thornberg, speaking to a packed room of about 450
attendees as organizers brought in rows of chairs to seat the overflow.

Substantial job growth in the Inland counties will not happen until the latter half of 2011. And unemployment rates, while declining, will remain in the double digits through the end of 2013, according to the forecast from Beacon Economics, a San Rafael-based think tank with an office in Los Angeles.

The forecast for unemployment was slightly more optimistic than a report last month from Claremont McKenna College and UCLA predicting double-digit unemployment rates through 2014.

In September, the jobless rate for the Inland Empire was 14.8 percent.

One sector showing signs of life is transportation and warehousing, which has turned the corner and will be the first sector to see long-term job growth, forecasters said.

“This is the sector that will lead the growth out of the downturn,” said Brad Kemp, Beacon Economics’ director of regional research, who gave the forecast for the Inland Empire.

Peter McWilliams, managing director of industrial services at Jones Lang LaSalle, said the industrial and warehousing real estate market has been bouncing back rapidly. He said he expects to see construction jobs returning.

“Tenants have come back in a huge way,” said McWilliams, speaking in a panel at the event.

New residential building, measured in the number of single-family home permits, will remain relatively flat for years, Kemp said.

The uncertainty that continues to plague the housing market will discourage both builders and potential homebuyers.

But with the bursting of the housing bubble, home prices in Riverside and San Bernardino counties have fallen more rapidly than in surrounding areas. That price decline will pave the way for a return to population growth fueled by affordable housing.

To read entire story, click here.