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Sunday, Mar 3, 2024

Economists See Growth Ahead for L.A. County

Ventura County’s economy will grow little in the next year or two, compared to the neighboring L.A. County, and that’s despite positive impacts anticipated to come from the Trump administration, according to experts at the 2017 Entrepreneur Economic Forecast Conference. On Thursday, Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast in Santa Barbara, painted rosy pictures for the future health and status of L.A. County, California and the nation’s economies during the conference he organized at the Hyatt Westlake. Other presenters at the event included Marc Doss, regional chief investment officer for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. and Monty Guild, chief investment officer with L.A.’s Guild Investment Management. Guild, speaking from an investment perspective, gave optimistic outlooks for businesses, particularly small and medium ones. He highlighted industries and stocks he anticipates will grow in the near-future – regional and community banks, medical technology, internet and technology and financial companies – should the anticipated changes pledged by President Donald Trump actually happen. Those pledges include lowering corporate taxes and decreasing certain business-oriented regulations. “Trumponomics likely means more growth in 2017 and 2018,” Schniepp said, although that growth will probably slow in the following years. Schniepp predicted that while Ventura County is at almost full employment status, future growth will drop to 0.8 percent. The county lacks an avenue for internal growth, he said, one of the reasons being a long list of companies that have left the county or significantly downsized their workforce there. He listed Verizon, Mandalay Berry Farms Inc. and several other large companies. In fact, his job forecast for the county is lower than all others in Southern California. He predicts no or minimal office job growth and flat growth on higher-paying jobs. “It will improve some, but not significantly,” Schniepp said. The industries that he forecasts will undergo the most job growth are health and education. The unemployment rate will continue to drop to 4.9 percent, and personal income growth will rise 4.2 percent after dropping last year. Inflation will likely move up to 2.5 percent, he added. The L.A. economy received a much rosier picture from the economist. Having already seen significant growth, employment growth should lower to only 1.1 percent this year, Schniepp said. The prior years were 2 percent and 2.1 percent, according to Schniepp ‘s report. Unemployment will decline to 4.8 percent and continue to fall this year, but at slower pace. “Trump is inheriting a strong economy,” Schniepp said. The stock market rally since November’s election has been “significant,” but “certainly there will be a correction,” Schniepp said, noting that the Trump rally doubled returns to investors in the last month. But for companies dependent on global trade, the situation could get ugly, Schniepp said. It is expected the North American Free Trade Agreement will be renegotiated. Trump also wants to negotiate with each foreign country individually. Should taxes be lowered, and infrastructure spending increase, both of which Trump has pledged to do, federal government expenditures will rise in turn, Schniepp said. “The federal deficit is going to rise significantly,” he added.

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