Economy continues to show improvement
The nation's economy is continuing on an upward path, and the Inland Empire is also showing positive signs at the start of 2015, analysts said.
The Department of Labor announced on March 6 that the United States economy added a robust 295,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate dropped from 5.7 percent in January to 5.5 percent, the lowest level in seven years.
California's jobless rate went down to 6.9 percent, according to the state's Employment Development Department, while the San Bernardino County rate is slightly higher at 7.2 percent. The local area has been suffering disproportionately from the effects of the recession.
"Most experts agree that in general the U.S. economy in 2015 will be modestly better than 2014, with growth coming in at above 3 percent, largely driven by the ongoing growth trends in consumer spending and business investment, with an additional bump from better numbers from the housing market," said Fontana City Manager Ken Hunt in a recent report.
"California has outpaced the nation in several key areas despite some of the issues faced during 2014, and the forecast for 2015 calls for ongoing improvements in virtually every aspect of the economy."
California residential defaults and foreclosures plummet as equity rises, Hunt said in his mid-year analysis for the city.
"Recent evidence suggests that California's housing market continues to return to 'normal' and as home prices continue to rise at a solid pace, home equity has returned to many home owners."
The City of Fontana's budget is seeing a net increase in general fund revenue estimates of $643,594, Hunt said, resulting in part from an increase in sales tax collection of $502,538.
Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Pomona), who visited Fontana on March 5, said she has "high hopes" for the local economy, partially because of positive developments in the logistics industry, but she is concerned that not all residents have benefited from the improving job situation.
Torres said she wants to see entry-level workers increase their job skills so that they can move up to higher paying positions which provide better benefits.
She was pleased to be a speaker at Poplar Elementary School's Career Fair, where students gained valuable insights about the jobs they may one day attain.
"I love to have the opportunity to talk to students about their career path and about possibly being a 9-1-1 police dispatcher," she said, referring to the work that she did before rising up through the political ranks.
In a press release, Torres announced the launch of a listening tour in which she will convene a series of meetings throughout her district with a cross-section of constituents, businesses, and local leaders to hear their ideas on creating jobs and growing the region’s economy.
“As I begin my first term in Congress, it is my priority to make sure my work on Capitol Hill effectively addresses the needs of my community,” she said. “I want to hear their recommendations and their concerns so that we can work together to help the Inland Empire reach its fullest potential.”
Meanwhile, another local member of Congress, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) said he was encouraged by the national job report, but added that more needs to be done.
"While we are clearly making strides to put Americans back to work nationally, our job is far from over, especially in San Bernardino County, where many working families have yet to feel that difference," he said in a statement.
"I'm confident that if Congress keeps its focus on key middle class issues, specifically job creation and investments in transportation and infrastructure, we will be able to provide the Inland Empire's working families with the resources they need to catch up to the rest of the nation."