Wednesday, November 16, 2011

California: Now the Bad News--Reputations matter

Following up on yesterday's "Some Good News for California: "The state with the biggest pension problem is stumbling toward a solution".

From the Los Angeles Times:

California — toxic for business
Unless Sacramento moves to improve the business climate, California's reputation as one of the country's most toxic business environments will make it hard for the Golden State to regain its luster.

Last year, the medical technology firm Numira Biosciences packed its bags and left Irvine for Salt Lake City. When asked about the firm's departure, its chief executive praised Utah's quality of life but also blamed California's business environment for the move. "The tipping point was when someone from the Orange County tax [assessor] wanted to see our facility to tax every piece of equipment I had," Michael Beeuwsaert told the Orange County Register.

For years, California could rely on its temperate climate and a talented workforce to attract and keep businesses even as taxes and regulations increased. No more. In surveys, executives regularly express the view that California has one of the country's most toxic business environments, and they say it is one of the least likely places they would open or expand a company. Many firms headquartered here say they have forsaken expansion in the state. Meanwhile, California suffers from an unemployment rate some 2 percentage points higher than that of the nation as a whole.

The deep discontent of the business community is just one sign of larger problems in the California economy that predate the 2008 national financial crisis. A study by City Journal using the National Establishment Time Series Database, which has tracked national job creation and migration from 1992 through 2008 (the latest data available), suggests that California's economy started showing signs of sclerosis a decade ago. So even after a national recovery takes place, the Golden State may keep struggling — unless Sacramento moves to improve the business climate.

Economists usually see business start-ups as the most important long-term source of job growth, and California has long had a reputation for nurturing new companies. Indeed, from 1992 to 2000, California added 777,000 more jobs from start-ups than it lost to closures. But this dynamism vanished in the 2000s. Between 2000 and 2008, California lost 262,000 more jobs from closures than it gained from start-ups.

Between 2000 and 2008, some 80,000 more jobs left California for other states than came here from other states. The leading destination of the job migration was Texas, with Oregon and North Carolina running second and third. California managed to add jobs only through the expansion of existing businesses, and even that was at a considerably lower rate than a decade earlier....MORE