When California's economy plunged into recession a few years ago, most economists believed it would be a relatively short-lived downturn.
That was then; this is now. The consensus now is that while the state's economy may have hit bottom and begun to rebound ever so slightly, it will be several years, at least, before payrolls return to pre-recession levels. California lost a mind-boggling 1.4 million jobs as recession bit, driving its unemployment rate above 12 percent, one of the nation's highest.
Even as they see a glimmer of light very far down a very dark tunnel, however, economists are uncertain about whether California will see true prosperity in the years to come.
There is, in fact, a great debate, mostly among politicians and in the media, over whether California is poised to prosper from a new technological surge or is destined to become a Michigan on the left coast, unable to compete for investment in a global economy.
It was a sharp difference in the just-concluded gubernatorial contest between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman.
Brown, the winner, argued that California can prosper anew by becoming a world leader in green technology, saying: "Today, our state has a visionary plan that will not only combat global warming, but will also reduce foreign energy dependence and unhealthy air emissions. It is absolutely imperative that we continue to lead and not back off these policies that will create the jobs of the future."
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