Could Sonoma County really be the 10th worst place for job growth in the entire United States?
Worse than Flint, Mich., which has been devastated by auto industry cuts? Worse than Sacramento, where budget cuts have wiped out thousands of government jobs? Worse than even Stockton, which is on the verge of bankruptcy?
Yes, yes and yes, according to a new study.
The study, published this week by Los Angeles economist Joel Kotkin, identified the best places for job growth in the United States by examining trends since 2000 in 398 communities across the country. Sonoma County came in 389th on the list, down from 357th on last year's roster.
"You have 20,000 fewer jobs than you had in 2000," said Kotkin, a Chapman University professor who collaborated on the report for NewGeography.com, a website that focuses on urban economic issues.
And Sonoma County hasn't seen any job growth since the lowest point of the recession in 2009, he said.
"You did even worse than Fresno and Stockton," Kotkin said.
The report is alarming but not surprising, said Robert Eyler, who heads the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University.
"It's a wake-up call," he said. "Other communities have rebounded faster than we have."
The report examined non-farm jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 398 U.S. metropolitan areas between 2000 and last January.