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USD's Gin optimistic about economy — with caveats

Both San Diego’s and the national economy are improving and should continue to do so -- assuming Congress and the White House will find some common ground, China’s slump isn’t deep, and the European Union is able to restore its fiscal house to order.

That is according to Alan Gin, University of San Diego’s associate professor of economics, who was addressing an International Council of Shopping Centers meeting at the Del Mar Marriott Tuesday.

“The national economy is going to be positive, but it’s slow,” Gin said.

Gin predicts 1.9 million jobs will be added this year, with 200,000 of those in retail. That would bring the national unemployment rate down from about 7.8 percent today to 7 percent by the end of the year.

Gin said with his projection of 25,000 or more new local jobs, San Diego County should see its unemployment rate fall from about 8.6 percent today to about 8 percent by the end of the year.

The construction sector in San Diego County, which lost tens of thousands of jobs during the recession, has begun to claw its way back, Gin noted.

“The housing market is rebounding. In fact, there’s solid rebounding, but then there are the hazards,” Gin said. “First you have the problems of the European Union.”

Gin then said the gross domestic product in China is now growing at about 8 percent annually.

“That would be spectacular for us, but it’s a slump for China. Then there are the debt ceiling consequences, and then you have the prospect of sequestration,” Gin said. "There would $1.2 trillion in cuts, and half of that is defense spending. San Diego is really dependent on this government spending.”

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