Economist: County's Economy Outlook 'Grim'

With unemployment expected to approach 8 percent, the outlook for San Diego County's economy in the short term remains grim, a University of San Diego economist reported Friday.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County fell 1.9 percent in November, the second-largest drop ever, according to Alan Gin, who compiles the index for USD's Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

All seven components of Gin's index were down last month.

There were significant declines in building permits, local stock prices, consumer confidence and help-wanted advertising and a more modest drop in the outlook for the national economy, according to the index.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance were also up more than 40 percent in November, compared to the same month last year, according to Gin.

The USD index has fallen in 31 of the past 32 months.

According to Gin's index, job growth has become "decidedly negative," and the unemployment rate in San Diego County is likely to approach -- and possibly top -- 8 percent sometime in 2009.

However, a combination of lower gas prices, a rise in home sales spurred by lower prices and interest rates and a proposed massive federal economic stimulus package may bring stability to the local economy in the second half of next year, according to the index.

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