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Hemet might never recover economically

The Hemet theatre in downtown Hemet, CA
The Hemet theatre in downtown Hemet, CA
Flickr user Joe Wolf (Creative Commons)

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By most measures, California's economy is chugging along after the Great Recession and housing crisis. But not for Hemet.

The Inland Empire suburb, halfway between Riverside and Palm Springs, is still struggling and may never bounce back.

"It's not pretty. About 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line," says Alana Semuels, who wrote about Hemet in The Atlantic magazine article, "The Places That May Never Recover From the Recession."

Before the housing collapse, the city was a development destination for new neighborhoods. But many homeowners fled Hemet after banks foreclosed on them.

It then became a city of renters who weren't as invested in building up strong communities. There are not many high-paying jobs nearby, either.

"Hemet lost jobs and businesses between 2011 and 2015," Semuels says. "This is a time when most of the nation was adding businesses."

Compounding the issue is that much of the workforce lacks a college degree. 

"One of the things that we've seen with this recovery is a lot of the good jobs – most jobs, in fact – are going to people with a college education," she says.

Well-paying companies are less likely to relocate there due to the lack of a high-skilled workforce.