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Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 11:55 am

Study: Solano economy has bright spots amid long-lasting challenges

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    FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s economic vital signs are mixed, but the prognosis is encouraging, according to a new government report.

    The Solano County Index of Economic and Community Progress for 2012, released this week, shows several trend lines moving upward — offering signs of recovery — while other indicators are still reeling from the six-year recession, according to Sandy Person, president of Solano Economic Development Corporation.

    This report will be the topic tomorrow at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the organization at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield starting at 7:30 a.m. featuring an analysis by economist Robert Eyler, Ph.D. He is a principal of Petaluma-based Economic Forensics and Analysis and is a Sonoma State University professor, Frank Howard Allen Research Scholar of Economics and director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis.

    The index takes three looks at the Solano economy: long view (2000–2012), recession view (2006–2010) and recovery view (2010–2012).

    The long view shows Solano County had a net gain of 4,367 jobs at local firms, a 28.3 percent increase in the gross domestic product and a 3.6 percent per-capita income increase, according to the report. Yet median household income declined 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2012.

    At the same time, the number of unemployed in the county more than doubled since 2000.

    The worst of the decline occurred in the peak recession years — 2006–2010. That’s when the local housing market collapse prompted local firms to cut 12,000 jobs, private industry GDP shrank by 4 percent, per-capita income declined 6.8 percent, taxable sales and assessed property values declined almost 25 percent and quarterly foreclosure figures were breaking annual records, according to the report.

    Local industry employment hit bottom in 2010. Since then, private industry in Solano has added back 4,200 jobs, but the government sector declined by 1,333 jobs. In December, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Solano dropped to 9.6 percent, down from 12.2 percent in December 2010, resulting in 7,050 more residents employed. Overall, 5.8 percent more Solano residents were employed in 2012 than in 2000 and over the last year the county added nearly 2,800 more.

    Bright spots

    There were bright spots in Solano County in the midst of the recession. Seven local industry sectors showed GDP growth and five experienced job gains. Health care dominated growth for both GDP and jobs. In addition, the median home price fell to more affordable levels and the high school dropout rate edged downward.

    To register for the meeting tomorrow, contact the Solano EDC at 707-864-1855. The complete 2012 Index report, including several in-depth analyses of local industry clusters, is available online at solanocounty.com/economicindex.

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