From the daily archives: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The California and national economies are recovering at a modest pace. The economic outlook has improved slightly. Labor markets made higher gains in the latter half of 2011, but growth moderated in the early months of 2012 (Fuel Cost went up around 25% during this time). Consumer attitudes and spending and business investment have been improving. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is projected at a higher level for 2012. The risks to recovery are now projected to be much lower. However, real estate conditions and unemployment rates continue to limit growth.

The biggest change in the California outlook stems from incorporating assumptions about the impact of the initial public offering of Facebook stock. It may turn out to be one of the largest initial offerings in U.S. history and far larger than all of the recent offerings in the internet sector. Since the company, its founder, principal employees, and many of its initial investors reside in California, it is projected to have a significant positive impact on California personal income in the latter half of 2012, increasing it by 1.7 percent.

 

California regions that are home to high‑technology, high‑wage, and/or export‑driven industries are doing relatively well. The remaining areas of the state are still affected by weak housing markets and public sector financial troubles.

California is benefiting from its attractiveness to venture capitalists. In 2011, California accounted for more than half of the entire nation’s venture‑backed investment — for the fourth consecutive year — led by software and biotechnology. A substantial portion of the state’s recent jobs gains stemmed from hiring in high‑wage industries such as computer design, semiconductor manufacturing, information technologies, and scientific and technical research. This focus on high‑technology industries has boosted California incomes. For example, the Facebook IPO could result in about $12 billion of additional income for California residents in the latter half of 2012.

 

As we celebrate Armed Forces Week, this is a particularly important time to pay tribute to the men and women who serve our country and safeguard our freedom.

Today, just one percent of Americans are fighting our wars, but we need 100% of Americans to be supporting our troops and their families –not just during Armed Forces Week, but all year long. That’s why we launched the Joining Forces Initiative last year to encourage all Americans to find ways to honor, recognize and support our veterans and military families.

Today, we are pleased to announce that we have a new way to thank those who serve their country in the military.

Starting on Armed Forces Day, this Saturday, May 19, we will be offering all active duty military a free annual pass that will grant access to service members and their dependents, to more than 2,000 sites across the country, including National Parks.

The annual pass will be accepted at all public land sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees, including those managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps.

From Yosemite to Acadia to the Grand Canyon, we are putting out a welcome mat for our military families at America’s most beautiful and storied sites.

Service men and women from all five branches of the military – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, including the Reserves and National Guard – are eligible just by showing a current, valid military identification card.  The pass is also available for the family members of active duty military, which is critical because we know that military spouses and children make sacrifices for our country every day too.

Earlier today, the very first of these passes were distributed in a ceremony at Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Virginia to members of the military – a small down payment on the debt of gratitude our nation owes our service men and women.

 
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