COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

Unemployment rates favor Ravens over 49ers in Super Bowl

It’s a good thing the San Diego Chargers are not playing in the Super Bowl.

Based on an interesting survey from RiseSmart, an outplacement consulting company, the Bolts would have been defeated handsomely by the Baltimore Ravens.

And it has nothing to do with the team on the field.

Turns out in 20 of the past 25 Super Bowl games, the team from the city with the lowest unemployment rate walks away with the Lombardi Trophy.

With an accuracy rate of 80 percent, the unemployment rate predictor is hard to beat.

As it works out, the Ravens are the likely victors in Super Bowl 47 based on the city’s jobless rate of 7.2 percent compared to the unemployment rate of 8.2 percent for San Francisco, home of the 49ers.

The unemployment rate in San Diego County announced last Friday was 8.1 percent at the end of December.

“One could hypothesize that a fan base with higher employment is more likely to attend games, buy team merchandise, and cheer on their team at sports bars and restaurants," said RiseSmart CEO Sanjay Sathe. "By contrast, a metro area struggling with high jobless rates might subtly but negatively impact its team’s success.”

To be sure, the jobless rate in San Diego County is on the mend, even if the football team isn’t.

The unemployment rate in San Diego County a year ago was 9.0 percent. But in the past 12 months local payrolls have increased by 20,300 jobs.

However, there is some good news out there for the local economy and, perhaps, San Diego Charger fans.

According to Dr. Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Fermanian Business and Economic Institute, the unemployment rate in the county will likely drop to 7.5 percent by the end of 2013 as local businesses raise payrolls by an estimated 29,000 jobs.

Alan Gin, an economics professor at the University of San Diego, agreed. He is forecasting the region could add as many as 30,000 new jobs in 2013.

Of course, as nice as it would be to have a winning team in the Super Bowl, the real benefit of a declining unemployment rate is the obvious consequence of an improving economy. And things could get even better next year. The UCLA economic forecast looks for payrolls to grow by 1.3 percent this year and employment to rise by 1.4 percent in 2014.

Both Reaser and Gin see the local region rebounding in 2013 despite the uncertainty of actions in Washington, DC, especially the possible deep cuts in defense spending as legislators wrestle with the debt ceiling and other issues.

But, putting people to work is one of the most measurable ways to determine the economic health of a region.

“Never underestimate the power of having a job," Sathe said. "It impacts workers, their families, their cities, and, just maybe, their football teams.”

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