Chapman University

By Margot Roosevelt / Staff Writer
June 24, 2015 – Updated 11:29 p.m.

Orange County will add more jobs this year than at any time in the past 15 years, buoyed in part by a reviving national economy, Chapman University economists predict.

The county’s momentum is “fantastic,” said Esmael Adibi, director of the University’s A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research. “Every sector will show positive job growth.”

According to Chapman’s biannual forecast, released Wednesday, county payrolls will grow by 47,000 jobs this year, or 3.1 percent. That’s the highest rate since 2000, when employers created 42,400 positions – also a 3.1 percent jump.

Next year, county job growth will taper somewhat to 41,000 jobs, a 2.7 percent increase, Chapman predicts.

Statewide, jobs will grow by 2.9 percent this year and by 2.5 percent in 2016, according to the forecast.

“Both California and Orange County have been in a catch-up mode,” Adibi said. “In 2013 and 2014, we were making up for what we lost in the recession. Now we are getting to a steady state.”

More than 950 businessmen and women attended the presentation of the biannual forecast at Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

The national forecast was led by James Doti, the university’s president and a professor of business and economics. The California and Orange County estimates were presented by Adibi.

Adibi said the forecast accounted for the expectation that the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis would revise upward its reported 0.7% downturn in national GDP in the first quarter. The agency did just that on Wednesday, estimating that output in the United States decreased at a rate of 0.2% during the first three months of the year.

Thus, the Chapman forecast predicts that “the slow start will end in a strong finish,” with a real GDP expansion of 2.5 percent this year, and 2.9 percent next year.

“Why is that so important to Orange County and to California?” Adibi said. “We produce lots of goods and services that we sell to the rest of country. If the country is doing well, there will be more demand for them.”

From 2014 through 2016, the biggest boost in jobs, 22,900, will come in professional and business services – a category that includes low-paid clerks as well as high-paid lawyers and accountants, according to the forecast.

Large numbers of positions will come in education and health services (16,800), which includes hospitals and private colleges, and in leisure and hospitality (12,400), which encompasses restaurants, hotels and theme parks.

The economists predict a healthy climate for Orange County’s building industry. Residential permits will remain strong, growing by 7.6 percent this year and 4.4 percent in 2016.

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