Job growth in much of California has outpaced the national average over the last year, signaling a continued economic rebound for the state in the coming years, according to the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast released Thursday.
Economists with UCLA's Anderson School of Management found that Silicon Valley had the highest rate of job growth in the state during the last year, at 4% -- more than double the national average. Employment numbers in Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Ventura County and Orange County also outperformed the national average, according to the analysis.
Employment numbers in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles are still below the pre-recession peak, while San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Diego have regained the job losses in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.
The East Bay, the San Joaquin Valley and counties near the Oregon border were the only regions that experienced job growth slower than the U.S. average.
"California really is bucking the trend of what's happening in the rest of the U.S.," said Jerry Nickelsburg, a senior economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast who focuses on state economic trends.
UCLA economists also projected a continuing decline in California's unemployment rate over the next two years, dropping from an average of 7.7% this year to 5.9% in 2016.
Those rates are still expected to be higher than the national average, but Nickelsburg pointed to data showing continued growth in California's labor force. Unemployment rates can be imprecise statistics because the numbers do not reflect workers who have dropped out of the labor force and given up on finding work.
Data showing a growing labor force in California, along with higher employment numbers, indicate a strengthening economy, Nickelsburg said.
"The whole reason you talk about discouraged workers is that people drop out of the labor force to do something else, because the markets aren't providing them with good enough options," he said. "We have just the opposite. We have people coming into the labor force -- hundreds of thousands of them since the recession."