Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New estimates of the economic impacts of reduced water supplies

Richard Howitt and I (with the assistance of his UC-Davis collaborators who worked very quickly and professionally) have completed a joint retrospective assessment of the economic impacts of reduced water supplies to San Joaquin Valley agriculture.  Those of you who followed these estimates last year may find this an unlikely collaboration.  Although we don’t agree on all the details, we do agree that the revised estimates are close enough together that the public discussion around these contentious issues is best served through this joint report that emphasizes similarities rather than differences and criticism.  Both of our estimates have been improved by the collaboration and feedback in addition to newly available data on what actually happened last year. 

When it comes to jobs, our (Pacific's) final estimate for 2009 was a total decline of 5,567 jobs with 1,392 of these attributable to environmental pumping restrictions on Delta water.  The new Davis estimate for 2009 is 7,434 lost jobs with 2,973 due to pumping restrictions.  I appreciate the Davis team's willingness to take another look at this and work together to get better information out there.  Although we were unable to settle on one number and differences remain, I think anyone who reads the report will recognize that the differences represent reasonable differences in professional judgement on a question where it is impossible to get a precise answer.

As this has been a topic of a number of posts on this blog, regular readers will recall that our (Pacific's) initial estimates, issued during Summer 2009, were 6,000 lost jobs with 2,000 due to pumping restrictions.  Although there has not been much of a change in our estimates over time, there are differences in the details and our confidence, source data, and approach to these estimates is much sharper now.

You can download the full report here.  You will find estimates of fallowing, agricultural revenue and income declines in the report, all of which are as important as estimates of job loss that received the most attention in this miserable economy.

(mildly edited 9/29 at 9:47 A.M.)

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