Job growth in the Inland Empire surpassed regional, state and national figures over the last year, it was announced Thursday.

The region’s annual job growth rate hit 2% between October 2018 to October 2019, according to an analysis released Thursday by the UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, which was compiled in partnership with Los Angeles-based Beacon Economics.

The Inland Empire — a region generally including western Riverside County and southwestern San Bernardino County — saw job growth numbers that surpassed the country as a whole, which hit 1.4%, along with the state at 1.8%. The Inland Empire also outperformed the Los Angeles metro area and Orange County, while matching the performance of San Diego County.

“While employment growth in the Inland Empire, and across other geographies, has indeed slowed from previous years, it has not stopped or reversed and shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign of a downturn,” said Adam Fowler, director of the center.

The region added 30,900 non-farm jobs over the last year, according to data from California’s Employment Development Department, led by gains in the healthcare, government and transportation and warehousing sectors, according to the report.

The findings also noted that the region’s labor force expanded, due in part to accessibility to affordable housing in the surrounding area, Fowler said.

The 0.4% annual increase in the local labor force — while only slight and at a slower rate than in past years, according to the study — surpassed figures in neighboring areas, as well as statewide totals.

“For the Inland Empire, the key takeaways in these numbers are the region’s overall competitiveness with other urban metros amidst a tight labor market, and that job growth is coming from a wide, healthy range of industries,” Fowler said.

Other findings from the analysis include a healthy rise in home prices, 4.7% for the region, a doubling of the statewide average of 2.2%.

Nominal wages continued to steadily increase in the Inland Empire at 3.8%, although slower than statewide averages, which came in at 4.2%.

“But as employers compete for talent from a limited pool, the upward pressure on earnings will continue,” said Victoria Pike Bond, a spokesperson for UC Riverside.

Local spending has also increased due to higher wages and gains in employment, according to the study.

Taxable sales in the region jumped 4.1% on an annual basis compared to 3.7% in the state overall, led by business-to-business spending, particularly in the business and industry category.

The entire Inland Empire Regional Intelligence Report can be viewed online at ucreconomicforecast.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/IE_RIR_Q4_12_19_2019.pdf.

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