Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Orange County’s job growth rate has reached its fastest pace in 15 years, an example of continuing good news about the local, state and federal economy, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University.

“We think the growth rate for Orange County will be about 3.1 percent, and that is the fastest growth since the year 2000,” said Esmael Adibi, director of the Anderson Center. “It’s going to taper off in 2016, with a growth rate like 2.7 percent.”

But it is still welcome news for the county, which was hit hard in the Great Recession as an epicenter of the housing collapse that fueled the economic downturn.

“The recession hit us really bad — disproportionately to the rest of the nation or California,” Adibi said. “We’re in the catch-up mode. The growth rate is kind of making up for what we did not get, but then we’re also kind of reaching a plateau. … But, overall, based on that we’re seeing a really strong job market and that should help income growth and spending.”

Topping off the list of industries creating the most jobs this year and next are white collar workers in professional and business services, Adibi said. That sector should see 23,000 new jobs, he added.

The Affordable Care Act is primarily credited with fueling an increase of 17,000 jobs in health care and private education, Adibi said.

The third biggest contributor to job growth locally is the leisure and hospitality industry, with about 12,400 jobs, Adibi said.

Forecasters predict about 10,000 new or restored jobs in government, Adibi said.

A rosier than usual state budget, which includes extra money for schools, will likely contribute to hiring in the local government sector, Adibi said.

Home prices are expected to continue to rise for the most part, Adibi said.

“The housing is a little problematic when you look at affordability, Adibi said. “We believe home prices will still go up, but not as fast as they did in 2013 or 2012.

Federal officials have told Chapman’s economists that they plan to revise upward the first quarter GDP statistics because of a flaw in calculating them, Adibi said.

In the most recent year, the GDP suffered in California due to the port strike and bad weather.

— Wire reports 

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