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Stockton Economy Recovering Slowly

STOCKTON–

Stockton was hit harder by the recession than just about any other city in the nation, but it is recovering with the rest of the country as outlined in President Obama’s speech Monday. However, it is lagging behind other parts of California.

Unemployment is about 12.8%, higher than the 8.9% in Sacramento just up the road.

Contractor Ramon Padilla, who owns Central Valley Lath and Plaster, said he isn’t hiring because he doesn’t want to get in a false recovery.

“The work is there, but we’re at the peak of where it’s just average,” said Padilla.

He did say his wife didn’t have a problem finding another job after being laid off during the downturn. Unemployment was as high as 18% two years ago.

Average home prices are also rising, going up 30% in the past year. But they are not yet at the levels they were five years ago when President Obama said the failure of financial giant Lehman Brothers signaled the beginning of the recession.

According to home value tracker Zillow, an average house cost less $180,000 in 2008. The same house bottomed out at $120,000 and is now at $160,000 and rising.

“We were very disappointed,” said homeowner Careli Dominguez.

“We bought when the value was high … so now that they’re going back up, Yay!” said Dominguez.

She says she feels more comfortable shopping because she’s not worried as much about being upside down on her mortgage.

Consumer confidence may fuel a rebound for the city, which once had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.  However, trends can change during a lukewarm recovery.