News Column

Economy: It's Always Sunny in Southern California

June 7, 2013

Southern California businesses and consumers can look forward to more hiring and stepped-up demand for goods and services, according to a report released this week from Cal State Fullerton.

The university's Southern California Leading Indicator, which forecasts economic activity three to six months out, rose to 109.74 for the first quarter of the year, up 3.5 percent over the same time last year. The index has risen for 14 consecutive quarters, and the latest results mark a record high for the report, which was first published in 2000.

"There is no concern about an economic slowdown here in Southern California," said CSUF economist Adrian Fleissig, the report's author.

What that means to Orange County residents who don't hold economics degrees is that business owners will likely continue hiring workers, and consumers should expect an increased supply of goods and services, Fleissig says. Companies also should see a short-term increase in demand for their goods and services.

The CSUF Department of Economics uses four regional measurements and three national numbers to calculate the index. The regional components are unemployment rates, nonfarm payroll employment, building permits and the Pacific region Consumer Confidence Index, which was the only portion of the formula that did not show positive growth this quarter. The national factors are interest rate, money supply, and Standard & Poor's 500 stock index.

The report also shows an improving statewide economy in April compared with March. California unemployment decreased in April, though the statewide unemployment rate of 9 percent remains higher than the U.S. rate of 7.5 percent. Orange County's unemployment rate is considerably lower, at 5.7 percent.

On the move

Shannon Kennedy was hired by BNY Mellon, a global investment company in New York, to serve as the company's first regional president for Orange and San Diego counties. Kennedy worked for 26 years at Northern Trust in Chicago, where she was a director. She starts work in Newport Beach on July 8.

Stearns Lending Inc., a Santa Ana-based mortgage firm, hired Vishnu Karra as senior vice president of production applications. He will oversee the management of mortgage originations technology and apps. Karra previously was a technology executive for Bank of America Home Loans.

Jaime Siegel has joined Acacia Research Group LLC, a technology patent company in Newport Beach, as senior vice president. He previously was vice president and senior intellectual property counsel for Sony Corp. of America, where he worked for 15 years and was responsible for international IP licensing.

LRES, a provider of commercial and residential valuations based in Orange, has named Scott Pickell as vice president of operations. Before joining LRES, Pickell was chief appraiser at Consolidated Analytics Inc. in Irvine.

New ventures

Blizzard Entertainment, an Irvine-based video game company, will release its "Diablo III" role-playing adventure on the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 game systems Sept. 3 -- a year after the title became available for Windows and Mac computers. This is the first time since the "Diablo" franchise debuted in 1996 that an installment has been available on a gaming console.

Tollfreenumber.org, an Irvine-based company that provides toll-free phone numbers to small businesses, has acquired reverse800.com, a search engine for toll-free numbers, for an undisclosed amount.

Leadership

Michael Aghajanian was appointed to the board of directors of Quality Systems Inc., an Irvine-based developer of software that manages medical practices and electronic health records. Aghajanian lectures at the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine.

Liquidmetal Technologies Inc., a Rancho Santa Margarita-based company that makes glass-like metal alloys, has appointed author Richard Sevcik to its board of directors. Sevcik has served on the boards of several technology companies and previously was executive vice president of Xilinx, a San Jose-based supplier of programmable computer chips.

PICS Auditing LLC, a contract-management company in Irvine, has appointed Carlos Ramon to its board of directors. Ramon has worked in leadership positions at PeopleSoft and Akamai Technologies.

TextPower Inc. added Glenn English, former Oklahoma congressman and retired CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, to its advisory board. TextPower, based in San Juan Capistrano, provides text messaging software for energy and utilities industries.

Susan G. Komen Orange County appointed Lynn Jolliffe, executive vice president of human resources at Ingram Micro Inc., as new board president.

Sutimco International Inc., a business accelerator in Santa Ana, has named Steve Nieman as chairman of the advisory board for the company's truck equipment and lubricants business unit. He previously worked at Mercer Management Consulting.

Overheard

"That means we're not pushing hard enough." -- Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president, referring to the perfect record of her company's "grasshopper" rocket, during a TEDx event at Chapman University this week.

Cameron Moore of the Register contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-796-3589 or ksablan@ocregister.com

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(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com

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Source: Copyright Orange County Register (CA) 2013


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