Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2011 Index tells three stories of Solano County

SOLANO COUNTY – The 2011 Index of Economic and Community Progress released today tells three stories of Solano County, depending on the length of your analytical lens.

When you take a decade-long view of the changes affecting the Solano County economy, several key indicators are showing positive signs or only modest declines, including a net gain of 2,900 jobs in local industry employment, a 24.8 percent increase in the gross domestic product, a 7.2 percent increase in the per capita income and a 0.3 percent decline in median household income.

Shorten the perspective to understand the effects of the Great Recession and the numbers are a somber retraction of the gains in the first half of the decade.  Local industry employment is down 9,700 jobs, the gross domestic product shrank 0.7 percent, notices of defaults are up 432 percent, and the median price for homes is down more than 60 percent.

Narrow the view to the last year and the local jobs picture looks brighter for the private sector with a net gain of 1,200 jobs from December 2010 to December 2011.  The public sector continued to shrink.

“We started the Index to give us a better perspective on what is happening in the economy and what we can do collectively to move the economy forward,” said Supervisor Mike Reagan.  “This Index affirms that families are hurting from the economy, but it also points to some bright spots that will help us recover from the recession.”

The Solano County Index of Economic and Community Progress project was launched in 2007 after a series of economic summits defined a need for more fact-based information to guide efforts by leaders in both the public and private sectors to expand the long-term viability of the Solano County economy.  The 2011 edition of the Index tracks many of the past indicators and adds the Sacramento region in many instances where comparisons are made to the Bay Area, state and nation. Unlike year’s past, this web-based report was prepared directly by County staff and will be updated throughout the year as more current information becomes available.

“In cooperation with the Solano EDC, the County is building the internal capacity to monitor, analyze and report the key indicators shaping our local economy,” Reagan said.

The Index identified six industry sectors that had both net positive job growth and net gains in gross domestic product from 2001 to 2010: Health Care & Social Assistance / Education; Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities; Financial Activities / Real Estate Services / Information; Leisure & Hospitality; Wholesale Trade; and Manufacturing – Nondurable Goods. Collectively, they account for 7,800 new jobs and a $2.45 billion increase in the county’s gross domestic product.

Construction, Manufacturing – Durable Goods, Government, Agriculture and Retail Trade account for 7,400 job losses over the decade; however, the gains in the gross domestic product of Agriculture and Government offset the losses in the other three sectors.

“The Index helps us to expand our current focus of getting people back to work and see where our economy has been successful in generating long-term growth,” said Supervisor John Vasquez. “The report reaffirms that our strategy to diversify Solano County’s industries has built some resiliency into our local economy.  It also shows we need to diversify even more.”

He said the loss of local redevelopment agencies will impact the capacity of the public sector to broker economic development opportunities.  Vasquez said the cities and county will rely more on their partnership with private sector to promote the advantages that Solano County offers.
“We need to make sure we keep doing what has been successful and provide ways for the other sectors to get moving forward,” Vasquez said.

Looking beyond the data in the Index, Solano EDC President Sandy Person points to examples of where Solano County is showing growth, such as the expansion among green energy-related companies, including:

  • Altec expansion in Dixon to add 50-plus jobs to produce green utility vehicles
  • Coda located in Benicia and expects to add 50-plus jobs assembling all-electric cars
  • Blu Homes opened at Vallejo-Mare Island to produce eco-friendly energy efficient prefab homes, with 90 new jobs to start and growing to 190 jobs.
“Our economy is moving, and it’s moving in the right direction again,” said Person.

The complete 2011 Index is available online at www.solanocounty.com/economicindex.  Past indexes, cluster analysis on the life science and energy clusters, and an inventory of commercial and industrial parcels in Solano County are also available for download on the website.

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