Logistics, construction, healthcare, manufacturing and professional sectors are the driving force behind the two-county Inland Empire's post-recession market, yet notably high poverty levels and lagging educational attainment continue to loom over the region's resurgence, according to a report to be released Thursday.
The logistics, healthcare and construction industries, in particular, have made steady gains in recent years in the IE and have surpassed pre-Great Recession levels, said economist John Husing, who prepared the report for Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).
Goods movements accounted for nearly a quarter of jobs created in the IE, the combined San Bernardino and Riverside counties, over the past five years. In 2017, the sector is expected to add 11,221 jobs, according to the report.
The healthcare sector is projected to add 4,335 jobs in the IE in 2017. The industry is bolstered by a shortage of healthcare workers, a growing and aging population and the influx of the newly insured due to the Affordable Care Act.
And in construction, the sector regained 31,305 jobs over the past four years and is expected to grow by another 5,500 jobs in 2017, driven by the region's "undeveloped land and Southern California's need for single-family homes, industrial facilities and infrastructure," the report said. The industry, however, has yet to catch up to its pre-mortgage crisis peak.
"There is every reason to anticipate growth levels similar to those of 2016 given the forces impacting the key sectors that make up the inland region's economic base," Husing said in a statement.
He'll present his report during the Seventh Annual Southern California Economic Summit on Thursday at the LA Hotel Downtown. The summit is sponsored by SCAG and the Southern California Leadership Council.
The report also details how manufacturing in the region remains "well below its pre-recession peak," although it's expected to create another 2,879 jobs in 2017. But the "sub-par" performance within the sector is a signal of the broader issue in California, which can only boast 4.3 percent of 802,000 manufacturing jobs created in the U.S. since 2010, Husing said.
"This stems from California's punishing regulatory environment plus energy policies that now have the state's electrical costs 43.3 percent above Nevada, the second most expensive state west of the Mississippi," he said.
Meanwhile, the professional, management and scientific work sector is projected to add more than 1,000 jobs in 2017, emboldened in part "by a growing need for professional service providers to support other industries and a demand for engineers as the construction sector re-emerges," according to a report preview provided this week.
Ultimately, the IE has created nearly 240,000 jobs since the worst of the Great Recession, sitting currently nearly 100,000 jobs above the pre-recession high.
Yet poverty and educational attainment in the region remain a concern.
Nearly 18 percent of the population in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and one-quarter of those under 18, live below the poverty line. Almost half of the adult IE population had a high school diploma or less in 2015 and only 20.1 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher — figures that fall behind the rest of Southern California.
"It's clear, we must act with a great sense of urgency when it comes to education attainment and workforce development," said Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner, who is second vice president of SCAG. "We need to make sure that we're not simply replacing good jobs that have sustained our middle class with low-paying positions requiring minimal training and education."
Wapner called transportation access a key to the region's future.
Southern California, as a whole, has added more than a million jobs since the Great Recession's worst period and Thursday's report is expected to underscore this half of the state's expected pathway to ongoing steady recovery in 2017.
Shea Johnson can be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.