Dr.John Husing, economist, delivers his aunnal economist forecast Friday April 6, 2012, during the 2012 State of the Region at the Double Tree by Hilton in Ontario. (LaFonzo Carter / Staff Photographer)


Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/06/2012 10:42:15 AM PDT

ONTARIO – The Inland Empire may be the scene of moderate job growth this year as some sectors appear to be rebounding, but those seeking work would likely do well to look somewhere other than construction or government for their next job.

That’s one lesson that can be taken away from Friday’s “State of the Region” forecast, which the Inland Empire Economic Partnership hosted on Friday at DoubleTree by Hilton Ontario Airport Hotel.

The IEEP’s chief economist, John Husing, said at the morning event that the Inland Empire’s recent job growth means the regional labor market is finally beginning to rebound from the downsizing of the Great Recession.

“We’re only this year starting to come back,” he said.

A comeback, in Husing’s projections, means a two-county job gain of 16,300 positions this year.

That amount of hiring would result in a regional unemployment rate of 11.5 percent for the year. San Bernardino and Riverside counties had a combined 12.5 percent unemployment rate in February.

An increase of 16,300 new jobs would also signify an improvement above last year’s job gain of nearly 3,800 hirings across the Inland Empire.

The region lost more than 146,000 jobs between 2008 and 2010.

“This has been weird for us. I was so used to being a happy economist, because I wasn’t used to being Dr. Doom,” Husing said.

But Husing said Friday he no longer has to assume the mantle of Dr. Doom, projecting a modest job growth on the same day the Labor Department released a lackluster jobs reports for the month of March.

U.S. employers hired 120,000 people last month, which was only enough to bring the official unemployment rate down to 8.2 percent from February’s 8.3 percent.

The official rate does not include “discouraged workers” and others not counted in the labor force. Adding those people to the calculation would bring the nation’s jobless rate to 14.5 percent last month.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said in a statement Friday the jobs report “fails to live up to expectations again” and could presage additional disappointments this spring.

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