The Port of Los Angeles. There are lots of containers on that wharf, but there could be more. (Myrow/KQED)

California gained 39,200 payroll jobs in September and 25,700 in October. One might be inclined to see these data points as glimmers of hope.

But Senior Economist Jerry Nickelsburg, author of the California chapter of the latest quarterly forecast from UCLA’s Anderson School, urges us to measure our optimism.

Yes, said Nickelsburg: there are parts of California that are doing better than the US, particularly the South Bay, but our economic prospects remain tied to what happens nationally and internationally. And what’s happening in Europe is a drag everywhere.

Europe? Surely California looks West to Asia more than it looks East to Europe, I pointed out. Nickelsburg explained that, for starters, around 25% of US exports go to Europe. But also, Asian manufacturing powerhouses export to Europe.

“In fact, Europe is the largest trading partner of China, the largest export market for China – not the United States. There’s a sort of circuitous route through our Asian connection that makes Europe, and what happens in Europe, important for California’s economic growth.”

There’s even talk of China stepping in to help Europe, but for now, that’s all talk.

In the meantime, California staggers forward, hoping its large ethnic populations and their ties to home countries around the world ensure we’re at the forefront of a global upswing, when that finally happens.


Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Silicon Valley Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers arts and culture in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. This follows more than seven years hosting KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked in Los Angeles for Marketplace and KPCC.

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