Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, Jul. 13, 2014 – 12:00 am

Were California a nation, we learned last week, its $2.2 trillion economy could claim eighth place in international economic standings, having bypassed Italy and Russia in the last year.

The news symbolizes to many, particularly those in politics, that California has completely weathered the worst recession since the Great Depression and is once again leading the nation, if not the world, in economic progress.

That interpretation, however, does not comport with the decidedly mixed bag of what’s really happening in our economy.

For one thing, California leaped over Italy and Russia – and may be poised to rise another notch or two – not so much because of outstanding growth in the state’s output of goods and services, but because its rivals’ economies have been sputtering.

During its lengthy and slow recovery from recession, California’s economic growth has been very slightly above the national rate – about 2 percent a year – and markedly lower than those of many other states, particularly those with booming energy sectors.

We have finally regained virtually all of the million-plus jobs lost during the housing industry meltdown and the subsequent recession, and our unemployment rate, once over 12 percent, has dropped by 40 percent to 7.6 percent.

However, we have not produced enough jobs to cover labor force growth during the last half-decade, too many new jobs are low-paying or part-time, and our jobless rate is still the nation’s fifth-highest.

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