UCLA's Anderson Forecast says state's economy is struggling

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Forecasters at UCLA predict that California's economy will be in the doldrums for at least the next year and a half. The team behind UCLA's Anderson Forecast seems to have moved beyond the word "recession." KPCC's Brian Watt says that people trying to make it in this economy don't care what word describes them.

Brian Watt: The co-author of the Anderson Forecast, economist Jerry Nickelsburg, says California's not in a recession. But that doesn't mean we're doing fine.

Jerry Nickelsburg: I like to avoid using "the R word" because it doesn't really convey a good sense of what's happening in the economy.

Watt: What's happening is that the state's economy is growing at a rate substantially lower than the normal 3 percent. The construction and finance sectors are the main drags, Nickelsburg says. Both have been hemorrhaging jobs since last year, and they still haven't hit bottom. Retail is also struggling. Consumer demand is flat, he says, and that's making businesses skittish.

Nickelsburg: And so we see a lack of hiring, both of full time employees and of temporary employees.

Pablo Nuñez: No hay trabajo constante...

Watt: That's carpenter Pablo Nuñez of Corona, explaining that he can't find steady work right now. His work framing windows and installing floors throughout the Southland was paying him as much as $18 an hour. It allowed him to move, with his wife and two kids, into a home of their own. Last year, the homebuilding subcontractor he worked for laid him off. Five months ago, the family lost the house and started renting again.

Nuñez: No te dan trabajo. Te quieren pagar 13 dolares, 14 dolares la hora.

Watt: Now, Nuñez says, the work he can get pays 13 or 14 dollars an hour. He contends his bosses are using his skills on the cheap. The Anderson forecasters figure the housing market will bounce off the bottom before the end of the year. That's the first step towards more steady work for people like Pablo Nuñez.