Economists predict unemployment rate could hit single digits earlier than expected

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An economic forecast suggests California’s unemployment rate will drop to single digits this time next year — sooner than originally predicted.

There some good news for the California job market. An economic forecast suggests California’s unemployment rate will drop to single digits this time next year — sooner than originally predicted.

Right now, California’s jobless rate is 10.7 percent. The rate’s been inching down since peaking at 12.5 percent in 2010.

Economist Jeff Michael is with the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton.

“We see [the] unemployment rate going into single digits in mid-2013," says Jeff Michael of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific. "In the past we’ve been saying the end of 2013.”

He attributes the improved forecast to better than expected job growth. California is now outperforming the rest of the country when it comes to job creation, with “health services” being one of the leading job sectors.

“It did really well in the recession compared to everything else," says Michael. "You know, everything else was declining. We don’t see any significant variation from that pattern going forward.”

He says overall job growth in the state will rise at a gradual pace, just under 2 percent for the next year and a half. He predicts the unemployment rate will fall below 9 percent in 2014 and below 8 percent the following year.

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