Ventura County’s economy has declined due to job losses in high-paying industry sectors, with only low-paying jobs increasing, according to the California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, which reported its economic forecast for 2018 in Ventura County at the Serra Center in Camarillo Thursday.
It’s taken 10 years, but the county has regained the number of jobs lost during the Great Recession; however, as the center’s Executive Director Matthew Fienup reported at the event, it’s not back to status quo because the new jobs are in much lower-paying health care and hospitality sectors. Plus, the county grew in population, so on a per capita basis, the number of jobs hasn’t really returned.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis, the source of CLU’s data, reported the county’s economy had a negative 2.7 percent gross domestic product in 2016. It is an estimated number until a year from now, and it may improve or worsen.
The negative direction was mainly due to the county’s losing almost $1 billion of output in non-durable manufacturing, which Fienup describes as items that can’t be stored as inventory and are usually consumed at the place of purchase. In Ventura County, the sector translates to biotechnology, and the biggest biotech firm in the county is Amgen Inc. in Thousand Oaks. Biotechnology is considered nondurable, Fienup said, because the biotech proteins, or chemicals, used to make therapies are made from livings things, are then consumed by patients and then go away.
The dramatic loss in the non-durable sector accounted for 82 percent of the county’s total decline, and biotech in the county is almost 93 percent of the sector represented in the county.
Fienup points out in his report that the biotech output losses relate to Amgen’s continued downsizing of its Thousand Oaks employee base. The latest event was in March, when the company announced nearly 10 percent of its local workforce would lose their jobs.
Fienup’s economic forecast for the county in 2017 is another almost 1 percent drop in growth, and while growth turns positive in 2018 and 2019, he estimates an average of 0.35 percent over the two years.