Housing, Poverty Issues Cloud Jobs and Wages in Monterey-Santa Cruz

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The Monterey Bay-Santa Cruz Region, similar to other coastal regions, is saddled with economic issues even as its economy, job base, and business activity are projected to continue growing in line with the broader economy well into 2020.

(Don’t miss “Impact of Regulations and CECL in a Late-Cycle Economy,” “Investments, Loans, Deposits and Direction,” and “2020: Growth, Recession, or Slowdown?” — all at the league’s Your Economy—Your Credit Union conference on June 13!)

That’s according to the 5th annual Regional Economic Summit hosted by the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership. The keynote speakers’ opinions spotlight intriguing viewpoints, trends and projections so your credit union can plan appropriately.

Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Region

  • Local job growth is impressive and rising wages have finally taken hold for several quarters, but that’s only half of the picture. Local economic growth has been met with skyrocketing housing inflation, growing wealth inequality, slightly higher poverty, and other socio-economic patterns that local business and government leaders are discussing and trying to reconcile.

  • The most recent economic expansion (2010 – present) has ushered the Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Region into a strong job-producing period—especially from 2012 onward. Combined average-annual total job growth in the counties of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito was approximately 6,800 positions from 2012 – 2018 versus a more tepid 1,600 from 2003 – 2007 (the last economic growth period). During the Great Recession and afterward (2008 – 2011), the region lost an average 3,200 jobs per year.

  • The combined unemployment rate in the three-county region has dropped to 6.5 percent (Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties)—still significantly higher than the state and nation. Local unemployment rates in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties fell from the 12 – 15 percent range in 2010 to 5.9, 5.7, and 7.2 percent (respectively) by 2017. Since then, Monterey County has risen back to 7 percent (possibly due to more individuals entering the labor force because of a “hot” job market)—but unemployment rates have dropped in Santa Cruz County and San Benito County to 5.5 and 5.3 percent. These individual unemployment rates are considered almost “normal” by economists’ standards, but they stand in contrast to 3.9 percent for California and 3.6 percent for the United States.

  • Click here to view the entire local forecast report on the League's "Your Economy--Your Credit Union" resource web page!

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