FAIRFIELD — Solano County supervisors on Tuesday heard words concerning the local economy that they have been waiting to hear for about six years.
“To a certain extent, one can claim the so-called Great Recession is over in Solano County,” Robert Eyler of Economic Forensics and Analytics told them. “The corner has been turned.”
But the Solano County 2013 Index of Economic and Community Progress that he presented to the Board of Supervisors also showed there’s room for more improvement. The board met in its chamber at the county Government Center.
For example, about 11,700 more residents have found jobs since 2010. But another 6,285 residents need to find jobs before the unemployment rate will drop to the 2005, pre-recession mark of 5.4 percent, the report said. The rate is at about 8 percent.
Solano County launched the community progress reports in 2007 after several local economic summits. These reports are designed to take the pulse of the local economy. The latest edition focuses on how the county is recovering from the recession.
The Bay Area has been the center of recent economic growth, Eyler said. From there, it ripples out.
“That wave is now starting to crash on places such as Solano County,” he said.
One positive sign is recovery in the housing market. The housing market meltdown helped trigger the Great Recession.
The local housing market in 2013 experienced a “perfect, positive storm” with strong financing conditions, availability of houses and rising demand. The number of foreclosures and notices of default fell to pre-recession levels. Prices climbed to 56 percent over the lowest median level during the recession, the report said.
The median price for a Solano County home in December 2013 was $218,000, according to San Diego-based real estate service DataQuick.
Higher home prices means more wealth for homeowners. Higher prices also make it harder for others to buy homes. The report indicates the county seems to be enjoying the best of both worlds.
“Solano County still has a regional advantage in terms of being relatively affordable,” Eyler said.
Fifty-six percent of the county population in 2013 could afford a median-priced house. That compares to 50 percent in Sacramento, 28 percent in Napa County, 24 percent in Sonoma County, 18 percent in Contra Costa and Marin counties, 16 percent in San Francisco County and 32 percent for the state, the report said.
Gross domestic product is a common measure of the nation’s economy. The Solano County report looks at the gross county product – the sum of all goods and services purchased within county borders during a year.
Solano County’s gross county product grew by more than 4 percent in 2012 and perhaps by 3.8 percent in 2013, the report said. Still, the county’s inflation-adjusted, pre-recession gross county product in 2005 was 5.2 percent larger than in 2012, showing the county has yet to overcome the losses from the recession, it said.
Sandy Person, president of the Solano Economic Development Corp., said major employers seem to be doing better in Solano County than small businesses. Major employers account for 5 percent of county businesses.
Supervisor Skip Thomson agreed. Perhaps that’s because large employers do business statewide, nationwide and even internationally, he said.
“If you talk to the folks in the small business community I talk to, things aren’t all that great,” Thomson said.
Solano County and the Solano Economic Development Corp. released the new report.
Eyler will present the Index of Economic and Community Progress at 8 a.m. March 28 the Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn, 2200 Gateway Court, Fairfield. Call 864-1855 for registration information.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.