California Dreaming: Golden State's economy expected to recover faster than the US post-pandemic

The pandemic is putting the resiliency of California's economy to the test, but signs point to a rapid recovery.

ByJose Mayorquin KGO logo
Thursday, April 8, 2021
California economy expected to rally post-pandemic
Economists forecast that California will recover from the pandemic faster than the U.S. and showcase the resiliency of the Golden State's robust economy.

Throughout its history, California has experienced several significant economic booms and busts. The coronavirus pandemic-induced recession is only the latest test of the Golden State's resilience.

Economic shutdowns across the state have pushed many businesses to, and beyond, their breaking points. The good news for Californians is that some economists forecast that the state will recover from this difficult period faster than the U.S.

"Our expectation is that California will grow faster than the U.S. The strength of the technology industries, the strength of the entertainment industry, the strength of the logistics industry, all of those look to be the growth sectors in the next decade. And California's economy is disproportionate in those sectors," said Jerry Nickelsburg, a UCLA economics professor and director of UCLA Anderson Forecast.

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Nickelsburg also cites the entrepreneurial spirit in California, and the significant number of new business applications filed this year in the state, as key drivers of the recovery. The professor has also observed a trend toward the development of inland parts of the state, including the Imperial, San Joaquin and Central valleys, due to lower costs of living and the growth of the logistics industry and agriculture, among other sectors.

In San Francisco, Rodney Fong, president and CEO of the area's Chamber of Commerce, attributes his city's significant business woes, in part to shutdowns and other strong health measures taken locally and across the state to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

"We estimate, at the Chamber of Commerce, that about 50% of the small businesses were shuttered. Whether they were temporarily shuttered or permanently closed is really still to be determined," said Fong. "So the resiliency of San Francisco, the resiliency of California is really about to showcase itself."

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Mario Christerna, chef and owner of Brooklyn Avenue Pizza Company in Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood, decided to move forward with plans to open his restaurant during the pandemic. He remains optimistic about the future of California's economy and its ability to bounce back from the pandemic.

"I keep hearing stories about people leaving California. Why? Anywhere you go, you gotta hustle," said Christerna. "As a business owner, it's given me so much hope and so much ganas, as we say, like fuel, because look at what we accomplished during the pandemic. I got hope and I'm optimistic. I know that when we come back, we're gonna spring back stronger."

Our special docuseries "California Dreaming" explores the challenges, solutions and people striving to keep the Golden State great, and the California Dream alive. Download our app on Roku, AppleTV, FireTV or AndroidTV to watch the special now on your TV!