The state's most respected economic forecast has weighed in on the employment outlook for California. It is grim.

"Unemployment is only going to get worse," said the UCLA Anderson Forecast issued earlier this month. The forecast said unemployment will peak at 12.7 percent, below other forecasts that put the high point at more than 14 percent in early 2010, but above where it is today.

For next year and the year after: "Though the California economy will be growing in 2011, it will not be generating enough jobs to drive the unemployment rate below double digits until 2012." [Italics added.]

To grasp just how dire the outlook for hiring is, take perhaps the most devastated California industry, construction.

In the three-county North Bay in October, there were just 23 permits issued for new single-family homes. In 2006, not a banner year for building by any stretch, there were 149, according to the Construction Industry Research Board.

In Sonoma County for the first 10 months of 2009, non-residential construction is off 70 percent from 2006 and 60 percent from 2008. Napa fared better, but only because of its continuing downtown redevelopment. Marin County non-residential construction was off 45 percent from 2008.

Meanwhile, the climate for business in California as a whole and in many parts of the North Bay continues to deteriorate, though it is hard to imagine how it could get much worse.

The state is again staring at yet another $20 billion budget deficit.

Though seemingly only minor by comparison, elected officials in the city of Santa Rosa signaled on a 4-3 vote last week they have little intention of reaching out to the business community, appointing a controversial retiring city planner as its interim city manager rather than making the logical choice of elevating a deputy. The appointment does not bode well for the individual an anti-growth council majority might choose as a permanent replacement for outgoing City Manager Jeff Kolin.

Add in all-but-certain federal tax increases, increased regulation and debt, it's little wonder we are shedding jobs and will continue to -- and taking the hopes and dreams of many along with them.


Brad Bollinger is Business Journal editor in chief and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or