County economic contraction continues

CERF: Housing prices limit growth, push families out

CERF's economists are Dan Hamilton and Matthew Fienup.

Photo: Brian Stethem

The California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting (CERF) released its 2019 Ventura County Economic Forecast today. 


  • Ventura County remains in a prolonged period of economic weakness. As of this writing, that period has stretched into a fifth year. 

  • The latest, and perhaps the most arresting, sign of weakness arrived in the form of population data. Ventura County’s population declined over the course of 2018 for the first time in the history for which we have data, according to the California Department of Finance.

  • Our latest estimate indicates that Ventura County GDP grew just 0.1 percent in 2018. Average growth over the last five years is zero percent, representing the weakest five-year period for which we have data. Average growth over the past four years is negative.

  • Poor housing affordability is driving jobs and individuals from the region, increasing net domestic out-migration and decreasing total economic activity.

  • The CERF Ventura County economic forecast anticipates that, driven by worsening negative net domestic migration, the county’s population will continue to shrink across the entire three-year forecast horizon. Annual growth of Ventura County GDP is forecast to range from just 0.2% down to 0.1% from 2019 through 2021. This is an erosion of last year’s forecast, which anticipated that growth would average 1% over the three-year forecast horizon.

  • Given that our forecast for population growth is negative over the same period, there is considerable downside risk to the GDP forecast. It is very possible that economic activity will be zero or even negative during this period.

Cal Lutheran’s CERF provides county, state and national forecasts and custom economic analysis for government, business and nonprofit organizations. The Wall Street Journal, National Association for Business Economics, Reuters, NBC, The Washington Post, the Economist, CNN Money and Pulsenomics have included CERF forecasters in their surveys on economic policies and outlooks, home prices, jobs and the presidential election. For more information, go to