Economist challenges lowered state ranking

By Jessica Brice
Monday September 23, 2002


SACRAMENTO – A top state economist is challenging recent findings that California’s economy has slipped to sixth place overall in the world. 

A report released earlier this week by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. indicates that France has moved ahead of California and become the world’s fifth largest economy. 

The report puts California’s gross state product in 2001 at $1.309 trillion, or $1 billion below France’s estimated gross domestic product of $1.310 trillion. 

But Howard Roth, chief economist of the California Department of Finance, said the California number seems too low. 

Official numbers won’t be released by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis until June 2003. 

In the meantime, Roth said state economists assume the gross California product has grown by the same amount as total state personal income. 

“Three independent sources estimate that California personal income increased in 2001,” Roth said. “Accordingly, we are very confident that California still ranks fifth largest in 2001.” 

California’s economy has been a bragging point for Gov. Gray Davis in his bid for re-election in November.