Monday, January 19, 2009

Tough times in California's Inland Empire

From Bloomberg

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- An hour’s drive through California’s Riverside County takes in neighborhoods of deserted homes, boarded-up businesses, busy unemployment offices -- and crews working on millions of dollars in new public projects.

Only four years ago, Riverside and nearby San Bernardino, often called the Inland Empire, were California’s economic powerhouse, accounting for more than a fifth of the state’s new jobs. Today, unemployment reigns in the sprawling region east of Los Angeles. The 9.5 percent jobless rate in the two counties matches Detroit’s as the highest of any major metropolitan area in the U.S.

Riverside also has almost $1 billion worth of public-works projects underway or planned, from widening roads to building a new jail. The county illustrates both the promise and the limitations of the spending President-elect Barack Obama proposes to pull the U.S. economy out of a recession that may become the longest since the Great Depression.

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