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California the world's fifth largest economy? Look out, Britain

The Sacramento Bee — Dale Kasler The Sacramento Bee

July 14--Frustrated about unaffordable housing or clogged freeways? Think of it as the price you pay for living in one of the world's largest economies.

California's economy ranked sixth in the world in 2016, according to rankings released by Palo Alto economist Stephen Levy on Friday. That's the same as the year before, when California overtook France and Brazil. But the state's economy isn't stagnating; California's economy is growing so quickly that Levy thinks the state will overtake the United Kingdom this year for No. 5.

Levy, head of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said the rankings are evidence of the state's vigor in the aftermath of the recession. As recently as 2010, the state had fallen to 10th in the rankings and some policymakers were wondering "are we losing our mojo?" Levy said.

More broadly, he said the rankings show the state is prospering despite a host of problems.

"It does say we're doing well," he said. "It does say that despite the housing, despite the transportation challenges and despite the air quality, we're kicking (butt)."

Although there have been signs recently that the state's growth rate is slowing, California's unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in May, the lowest in nearly 17 years. The June figures will be released next week.

Levy calculated the numbers from World Bank estimates released earlier this month and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which breaks down state-by-state economic output. The U.K.'s economy totaled $2.62 trillion, with California at $2.60 trillion.

He said California's economic growth of 2.9 percent last year was nearly double the U.S. average, and the seventh best among the states. Washington state had the fastest growing economy in the country last year, at 3.7 percent.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

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