A report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis surprised Sonoma County officials, as it indicated the county’s economy shrank at a far greater rate than the country as a whole and overall it was one of the hardest-hit regions in the nation. According to Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, the report’s figures were unexpected, as Stone commented that “I can't believe we were worse than Riverside and San Bernardino.” Specifically, Sonoma’s economy shrank 3.7 percent between 2008 and 2009, which can be compared to the 2.4 reduction rate that metro areas in the nation as a whole experienced. The Press Democrat reports:
“The county's job market held up better than other parts of California during that time, he said, with only 10 counties reporting lower unemployment rates. But the new data show how some sectors of the economy, led by construction, dragged down Sonoma County's overall output. ‘We lost 40 percent of the jobs in construction,’ Stone said. The study examined gross domestic product, the value of goods and services produced by a particular region. It found 80 percent of 366 U.S. metropolitan areas suffered a decline in 2009. But only 61 areas saw a deeper drop than Sonoma County, according to the report. After removing the impact of inflation, Sonoma County's gross domestic product fell from $20.4 billion to $19.6 billion in 2009.”
According to an expert, Sonoma’s economic woes were exacerbated by the real estate market and the tumble of the construction industry, both of which were heated prior to the recession. As for current growth, it is still sluggish, as is the case for much of the state. The recovery of the housing market would undoubtedly present a boost for Sonoma and many other counties. For more, see here.