California Drought Report #12

Drilling for Ground WaterThe Legislative Analyst’s Office reports that the current drought will only have a limited economic impact. The SAC Bee has the story:

California’s punishing drought has fallowed farmland and yellowed front lawns, yet it will have little noticeable impact on the state’s overall economy or government revenue, at least in the short term, according to a new report by the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst.

“While the drought is affecting many Californians and communities in different ways, we currently do not expect the drought to have a significant effect on statewide economic activity or state government revenues,” Tuesday’s report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office read. “That being said, we acknowledge the drought as a risk factor for the state’s economy, especially if its effects worsen or are prolonged.”

The drought’s effects have largely been confined to the state’s agricultural industry and ag-heavy Central Valley communities. Agriculture, though, makes up about 2 percent of the state’s economy, and agricultural jobs account for 3 or 4 percent of the state workforce, the report said, far from enough to drag down California’s $2.2 trillion gross domestic product.

“Even a substantial decline in agriculture’s share of the economy, such as occurred during and after the 1976-77 drought, probably would have only a limited impact on the overall state economy,” the LAO said, noting that the state’s overall GDP grew during those years.

The problem is no one, including the smart people at the LAO, have any idea how long the current drought will last. While it has not had a big economic impact yet, we maybe on the cusp of a very long drought lasting several generatons. Past long droughts have resulted in major cultural and social changes in the region. Through out the southwest cultures that developed over 100s of year collapsed when the drought lasted more than multiple generations.

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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2 Responses to California Drought Report #12

  1. Dena says:

    As normal, I think the the California government is fudging the numbers by picking the quickest and easiest number they can find. First, Farmers don’t use 80% of the water as the government has said.
    Next I think far more of the state economy depends on farming. Consider the fact that crops such as cotton might be manufactured into another product. Fruit, vegetables and nuts are canned/processed and resold both in state and out of state at a far higher price than it was sold for off the plant/tree. Also consider the cost to the economy when these products are not available locally. The buy local movement will find they are purchasing products not produced in another state but from another country as few places in the United states are are able to grow the crops that are produced in California. Over all this will cause the cost of living to rise resulting in a greater impact to the economy than the 2% Governor Moon Beam said.
    A local example of how productive the western part of the country can be seen with an alfalfa felid that is a short distance from me. In eastern parts of the country, You can get two cuttings of alfalfa a year. The field next to me gets about 11 cuttings a year. Farmers in Arizona when producing vegetables can produce up to 3 crops a year if they get their timing right. California’s short sighted view of water and water distribution will have very long reaching consequences because once the farmer lose their land and we lose the farmers, there will be no way the mistake can be corrected.


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