Compiled by Michael Flagg, Times Staff Writer

Demand for housing in the Rancho California and Murrieta markets of Riverside County will rise to 3,500 units a year over the next three years, says a consultant, up from as little as 200 units a year in the early 1980s.

Much of the increased demand in Riverside County comes from middle-class families fleeing Orange County's steep housing prices, but much of it is also comes from the county's own growth as an employment center, says a recent study by Newport Economics Group.

From 4,000 jobs a year in the early 1980s, the county's economy is now creating 36,000 jobs a year.

Most of the demand will be for single-family houses costing between $75,000 and $125,000.

San Bernardino County is also thriving, the consulting firm says in a separate study. The two counties--the "Inland Empire"--are now among the fastest-growing housing markets in the country.

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