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Pacific report, conference to break down region’s wellbeing, workforce skills

Nov 30, 2018

The economic and social progress of the North San Joaquin Valley (NSJV) will be discussed at an annual conference Tuesday in Stockton, with a special focus on helping workers gain the skills they need for jobs today and into the future.

This is the fifth year University of the Pacific's Center for Business and Policy Research (CBPR) has presented the State of the North San Joaquin Valley Conference. It is the fourth year of using the event to release the North San Joaquin Valley Index to underscore economic and social indicators for San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties. The conference is 7:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel in downtown Stockton.

"The index highlights the emerging and developing economic issues, as well as the economic and demographic outlooks for a three-county region that needs more recognition as a unique and important place in California," said Jeffrey Michael, CBPR's executive director. "The index and the conference are tools for building regional identity and for sparking collaboration on economic development to enhance the quality of life in the region."

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs' keynote address will discuss transforming employment opportunities in Stockton and the city's Workforce Development Action Plan.

"It is important that we focus and prepare for the changing trends in our economic future," Tubbs said. "We must situate Stockton and our greater region to build upon local advantages such as our port, our proximity to the Bay Area and our easy access to major transportation routes, all while providing our community with tools needed to fulfill the high-skilled jobs of tomorrow."

Finding skilled workers is a major concern of small business owners, according to a CBPR survey. A panel discussion on "Transforming Skills Ecosystems in the NSJV" will follow the keynote address.

"This three-county region faces a multitude of challenges as well as opportunities to transform its skills ecosystem and make sure there are more skilled workers," said Thomas Pogue, CBPR's associated director, who will moderate the expert panel. That panel will include Linda Bidrossian, senior vice president of the Bay Area Council; Robert Tibbs, founder and CEO of ConSol-USA; and Ann Rogan, FUSE executive fellow in the mayor's office.

JP Morgan Chace and Co., Pacific Gas and Electric and San Joaquin Council of Governments are co-sponsors of the event.

Highlights from the 2018 NSJV Index

Economy of the NSJV:

  • NSJV gained approximately 12,000 jobs from 2017 to 2018, the seventh consecutive year job growth exceeded 2%. In 2017, NSJV had 11.4% more jobs than prior to the Great Recession and has exceeded the California and U.S. job-growth rate over the past decade.
  • The Trade and Transportation sector led job growth with nearly 5,000 new jobs, followed by a 3,000 job gain in Healthcare; these sectors have led job growth over the past decade. Agriculture, Other Services and Information lost jobs in the NSJV over the past year.
  • The NSJV economy, as measured by GDP, grew to $57.3 billion in 2017. After controlling for inflation, the preliminary estimate of 2017 real GDP growth was 0.8%, a decrease from real growth exceeding 4% in both 2015 and 2016.
  • Median household income increased in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties in 2017, but is still below its prerecession level after controlling for inflation in all NSJV counties.
  • Poverty rate has dropped greatly across the NSJV since 2011, and is lowest in Stanislaus County (13.5%), which is almost equal to the California average. Adjusted for cost of living, the poverty rate in the NSJV is 3.5 percentage points lower than California as a whole.
  • The value of agriculture output increased by 8‐10% in 2017 after declines the previous two years from a record-breaking peak in 2014. Farm net income and wages both increased in 2017, as revenue grew and non‐wage cost declined. Despite some volatility, farm revenue, income and wages are all significantly higher than they were 10 years ago.
  • Small businesses responding to a survey remain optimistic about future demand, but are increasingly concerned about availability of workforce skills, state tax policy and the federal debt.

People and Society in the NSJV:

  • NSJV population grew 1.39% between 2016 and 2017, equating to another 21,400 new residents. The NSJV population is now 1.57 million.
  • In 2017, both net domestic and international migration in the NSJV were positive for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Over the next 45 years, we project NSJV population growth will average 0.92% annually. The NSJV population will exceed 2.3 million in 2060.
  • Birthrates dropped for the 11th consecutive year with a 3.3% decline from 2016 to 2017 alone.
  • Sustained improvement in numerous indicators of human capital development, including higher educational attainment, rising 3‐ and 4-year-old's school enrollment, and third-grade reading and math proficiencies. College readiness of NSJV high school graduates is also continuing to improve, but less than 35% of NSJV high school graduates meet admissions criteria for California's CSU/UC system.

The NSJV as a Place:

  • Since 2011, median home values have seen sustained growth in the region. In 2017, all three NSJV counties recorded median home sale prices above the national median. Between 2011 and 2017 median home sale prices have doubled in Stanislaus, grown by 97% in San Joaquin and risen by 91% in Merced.
  • Interregional integration continues to expand with over 90,000 residents commuting outside the NSJV for work and over 27,000 workers commuting into the NSJV for work.
  • Despite changes to the Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage in the NSJV remained high, although dropping slightly from 94.1% coverage in 2016 to 93.7% coverage in 2017.
  • Travel and tourism expenditures in the NSJV expanded by over 17% from 2016 to 2017 reaching $1.74 billion. 

Thomas Pogue | 209.946.2913 (office) | 209.327.2783 (cell) | tpogue@pacific.edu

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