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Forecast: California to outpace nation in job growth

LOS ANGELES — California will continue to outpace the nation in job growth over the next few years, narrowing an unemployment rate gap in a slow but uneven economic recovery that will leave unskilled workers behind, according to the UCLA Anderson Forecast released Thursday.

The state's unemployment rate will average 8.9 percent this year — compared with 7.6 for the U.S. as a whole — but it will drop by a percentage point in 2014 and another in 2015, forecasters said in their third-quarter report.

The national unemployment rate will remain lower, but California will narrow that gap as it has continued to do for more than a year, the forecast said.

"The factors which have driven California employment and income growth to higher rates than the U.S. are still in play," it said. "As the world economy improves, and as investment in the U.S. picks up once again, California will once again have a disproportionate share of that improvement."

California's total employment growth — including payroll, farm and the self-employed — will be 2.7 percent this year, and 2.1 percent for each of the next two years, the forecast said.

Real personal income growth will be 1.9 percent this year — beating the U.S. figure of 1.4 percent — and it will surge to 3.3 percent in 2014 and 2015, which is almost equal to the U.S. figure.

California added 80,000 nonfarm jobs between April and July, representing more than 15 percent of the U.S. gain in the category for the period, the report said. For the 12 months that ended in July, California was second only to Utah in the rate of total employment gains, with a 2.8 percent growth rate that was double that of the U.S. as a whole.

However, not everyone in California was benefiting equally. The state's recovery was "divided geographically and divided by skill class," forecasters said.

"The coastal economies in California, driven by investment, technology, and trade, have outperformed the U.S. while the inland economies driven by migration, construction and government, have stagnated," forecasters said.

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