A blog reader emailed me this link to the brand new House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee webpage. This bullet was under "Get the Facts."
The lack of water has caused 500,000 acres of farm land to dry up – a land mass equivalent to the size of the State of Rhode Island. Also, according to a May 2009 report by U.C. Davis, the water restrictions have left nearly 40,000 people unemployed.If it were an old webpage, I would be more forgiving, but since it is a new webpage it ought to have the most recent information.
The updated estimates in this joint Pacific/Davis September 2010 report are that the pumping restrictions generated a loss of 60,000 to 130,000 acres, and between 1,392 and 2,973 jobs.
Don't be surprised if/when new studies by reputable researchers (not by me or the Davis folks) addressing this question with more rigorous, econometric models find that even these updated employment loss estimates are too high. That shouldn't be surprising to economists familiar with the differences between input-output and econometric models.