CA Expert: Recovery, But Not Till Year End

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UCLA's Jerry Nickelsburg.

California’s recovery is underway, but don’t expect the state’s construction activity to return to pre-recession numbers any time soon. That was the message from Jerry Nickelsburg, a senior economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast, at the Allen Matkins Construction Trends 2010 conference held in Downtown LA last week. Nickelsburg confirmed the national recession did end last summer, with the nation’s gross domestic product up nearly 6 percent in the last quarter, but financial markets still are healing, he said. Though we typically see a residential construction spike following a recession, he warned this recovery will look different because the building boom was “asymmetrical.” Coastal areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orange County will soon see an increase in residential construction activity, he said, but inland areas, like the Inland Empire, Sacramento, and the Central Valley, will take longer to recover. California’s non-residential construction recovery will be led by the office sector, particularly in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where Nickelsburg said levels escaped overbuilding during the boom. Retail will take longer to recover, because consumption is down and Internet sales are cutting into traditional retail outlets’ business. When will financing be available to jumpstart these projects? “Given the character of this recession, it is not all bad news,” Nickelsburg said. “Things will pick up at the end of this year and into next year. In 12 to 18 months, there will be less hesitancy. The financial markets will be ready to fund this recovery.”

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