Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011 – 12:13 am

Technically, California’s economy is recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression. But it sure doesn’t feel like it.

The housing market is still in the sewer, retail sales are weak, and more than 2 million California workers are unemployed – not counting tens of thousands who have given up looking for work or are getting by with off-the-books jobs.

With their families, an educated guess would be that recession still seriously affects a quarter or more of Californians.

While employment has stopped its decline, it’s now growing scarcely fast enough to keep pace with population (and labor force) growth, and thus only marginally affects the unemployment rate, which hovers around 12 percent.

It’s difficult to find an economist who is bullish about the state’s near-term future. The consensus seems to be that California, with the nation’s second-highest jobless rate, will be experiencing double-digit unemployment and other effects of malaise for at least several more years.

“The economic outlook for California over the next two years has deteriorated,” the University of Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business declares in its most recent forecast.

“We have downgraded our forecast for California employment growth since May,” the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, observed last week in a gloomy assessment of the state budget.

Some economists are even more pessimistic, a few more optimistic, about the near future.

Much of what happens here is tied, of course, to trends in the global and national economies. But California, as the nation’s most populous state with a roughly $2 trillion economy, has unique attributes, both positive and negative, that affect recovery.

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