Cal Focus: State’s economy looking up, despite ‘declinists’

For most of the last five years, the pessimists Gov. Jerry Brown likes to call “declinists” were out in force, shouting to everyone who would listen that California’s best days are behind it, that Texas is the place to go. Some of them even profited from such moves, working as business relocation consultants.

But they’ve been oddly silent lately, maybe because good times are starting to roll again in the Golden State. Even in manufacturing, witness the fact that carmaker Mercedes Benz this summer leased nearly 1.1 million square feet of a former airplane plant in Long Beach that had been shuttered some seven years.

The eastern food franchise Dunkin’ Donuts will open 45 stores in California soon, creating about 1,000 jobs. Amazon’s new distribution centers in Patterson, Tracy and San Bernardino will hire at least 1,000 more workers than they already have. The same company just leased 75,000 square feet of office space in Santa Monica for its new television and movie production company, not saying how many workers it will hire.

That’s just up the street from a new Microsoft research facility and only a few miles from where Google has renovated a large building in the Venice district of Los Angeles, increasing the credibility of the so-called Silicon Beach area in western Los Angeles County, where YouTube and Yahoo, among others, have already had a large presence.

Just two years ago, the “declinists” seemed pleased when California’s economy slipped to 10th place in the world from its longtime position as No. 8, surpassed by Italy and Russia. But the Palo Alto-based Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy now predicts California will be back to No. 8 by year’s end.

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