Fresno State Professor Keith Story speaks to the Fresno Rotary Club Monday afternoon.
Written by Gabriel Dillard
A trio of faculty members at the Craig School of Business at Fresno State offered community leaders an inside look at the local economy.
Bob Harper, dean of the Craig School, introduced the three professors to the Fresno Rotary club Monday afternoon. The three also contributed articles to the school’s inaugural Central California Business Review published in February.
Keith Story, assistant professor in the Department of Marketing & Logistics, said that for a six-county swath of the Central Valley from Merced to Kern County, the total value of the manufacturing sector is $32.6 billion, which represents about 6.4 percent of California’s $512.3 billion sector.
Story was bullish on the growth prospects for Valley manufacturing, pointing out that in terms of average annual employees, the Central Valley grew 6.1 percent from 2013-2016, while the state’s growth was 3.9 percent in that period.
Valley manufacturing also continues to be a sector for small companies, as Story said about 80 percent of the manufacturing businesses here have 50 employees or fewer.
Qin Fan, assistant economics professor, shared some information about the local labor market, finding that while the region’s unemployment rates are higher, employment growth outpaced the state and nation in 2016-2017
Fan and Professor Harry Xia authored a paper that also found that natural resources and mining, education & health service and trade, transportation & utilities are the most important sectors with larger shares of employment in the local economy.
The information, financial activities and professional & business services sectors in the Valley fall below the state and national average.
Fan said that a growing labor force, high unemployment rate and competitive local labor cost make Central California an attractive place to develop labor-intensive businesses.
When it comes to consumer sentiment, a survey showed that it’s generally positive in the Central Valley, where 90 percent of respondents expect their income to rise (43 percent) or stay the same (48 percent) over the next year.
Samer Sarofim, assistant professors in the marketing & logistics department, also said respondents also gave generally positive outlooks on their personal economic situations, though they expect inflation to increase faster than their income, and they are generally less positive than the national average about their past situation, but more positive about the future.