Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Did Davis revise their job numbers down ... or up?

Those of you following the water, farm jobs news stories may find this interesting. From the March 31, 2009 report from the Department of Water Resources and California Department of Food and Agriculture to the Governor (page 17, 19).

A collaborative economic impact modeling effort between the California
Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), University of California at Davis, and DWR has estimated income and employment impacts from water shortages to irrigated agriculture in the Central Valley based on the current forecasted water project deliveries and estimates of local surface and groundwater water supply availability. The results are as follows:

Central Valley farm revenue loss is estimated to range between $325 million and $477 million.

The associated total employment loss is estimated to be between 16,200 and 23,700 full-time equivalent jobs, with the majority of jobs lost in the lowest paying categories.

I just discovered this report from last spring for the first time this afternoon. It is very interesting that these March 2009 numbers are even lower than what Professor Howitt at UC-Davis is quoting now after 2 downward revisions.

This report to the Governor was issued a few weeks before last April's water march, a time when media stories about water restrictions and job loss were peaking. Many stories quoted Dr. Howitt stating job losses were 3-4 times this level. Their first report of 80,000 jobs was published in February, and the unpublished (but widely circulated) revision of 35,000 lost jobs was dated in May. It is very puzzling to see this much lower estimate between these 2 dates.

The numbers obviously are coming from the same Davis based group, because it has the unbelievably high 50 jobs per $1 million farm revenue ratio that distinguished their first two reports. At these levels of revenue loss using a more typical multiplier of 15 jobs per $1 million, they would have estimated 5,000 to 7,000 lost jobs, exactly equal to the number I reported in the August 2009 "Fish or Foreclosure" paper.

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