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The Central Valley has been the fastest growing region in California since 2001.  Unlike the San Francisco Bay Area which was affected by the recession in 2001 where large-scale job loss occurred, the Central Valley continued to experience strong employment growth.  As of January 2006, the region had about 14% more jobs than six years earlier.

During 2005, official employment data showed that the regionís employment growth - which had been consistently faster than that of the state since 2001 - was approaching the statewide average.    Payroll employment increased 1.8% statewide in 2005, faster than the national average of 1.5%.  The Valley saw its job growth (excluding the farm sector) accelerate to 2.7% in 2005 from 1.8% in 2004.

Affordable Housing Attracts Population and Jobs 

Central California is one of the fastest-growing regions of the state, with cities such as Bakersfield adding residents at nearly twice the state-wide growth rate. 

Multiple factors have fueled growth in the Valley, but the most obvious one is the regionís housing boom.  As the price of homes in the coastal regions became increasingly expensive, the Valley offered more affordable alternatives.  Many families moved to the Valley so that they, too, could become homeowners.  The median home price is $438,500.

Between 2004 and 2005, most of the high population growth counties are inland, including the entire Central Valley and the Inland Empire area in Southern California.

Contribution of the building industry to recent growth in the Central Valley is unmistakable.  The construction sector had by far the largest gain over the year, up to 10,700 jobs since January 2005.  On the percentage basis, the sector also had the largest gain of 14.3%.  Those construction jobs are well-paying jobs and provide a significant initial boost to the local economy.

Much of the Valley is now moving towards the settling-in phase.  As new residents settle in, their presence immediately creates the need for certain services, including police and fire protection, public education, medical care, and food services, just to name a few.  During this phase, the local economic base becomes broader and additional employment opportunities benefit both locals and newcomers.  Government, leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and health care sectors add a large number of jobs.  These new opportunities are a welcome relief for a region that has long been dependent on the agricultural sector.


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