Although the local economy hasn't fully recovered, local analysts say we are taking steps in the right direction. Many signs indicate the worst may be over in Bakersfield.
It's another sign the worst may be over for the housing market.
"It's been a matter of just for the past five or six years, just staying alive," said Matt Towery, President, Towery Homes.
New home construction in Bakersfield, which was hit hard during the housing bust, has seen significant growth. Builders expect new home permits will triple this year, compared to last year.
"I was told it's kind of like running a marathon where at Mile 13, you can't see the end and you can't see it's coming," explained Towery. "But, at Mile 23 you still can't see the end and all of a sudden it's there, and that's kind of what this has been like."
Over the last year in Kern County, construction added 900 new jobs. Crews are now building on empty lots that builders walked away from years ago.
"That's also becoming a rarity, finding finished lots that a builder would be able to purchase, and now the next step is starting to develop land again, which is a very good sign," he continued.
Not only are people buying new homes, they're buying new cars. Last month, car sales at Nill Wright Toyota were up 51 percent, compared to September 2011.
"We're in a situation where we see a lot of pent up demand," said Kevan Juergens, General Manager, Bill Wright Toyota.
"People have held off in purchasing a new vehicle maybe because of the economy, and so I think they have a little more confidence," he continued.
Last year, car dealers faced a double whammy. A down economy coupled with a shortage of cars because of a tsunami in Japan.
"Kern County is now the 800-pound gorilla in the San Joaquin Valley," said Cheryl Scott, Vice President, Kern Economic Development Corporation.
"We've actually edged out Fresno in terms of gross domestic product," she continued.
"People are spending a little bit more money. People are feeling a little bit more confident," explained Bill Stevenson, Acting Director, Employers' Training Resource.
According to the State Employment Development Department, 12 percent of Kern County residents were out of work in September.
The unemployment rate hasn't been that low since December 2008, when it hit 11.5 percent
"Our location is strong, so we're bringing in new jobs in terms of distribution, transportation, and warehousing," said Scott.
"We're about 5,000 jobs away from where we were back in 2007," she noted.
"Last year, we started hearing that people were kind of holding status quo, not hiring. This year, we're hearing that things are moving forward in terms of hiring more, expanding, setting up new locations," explained Scott.
"Jobs are up across the board, not just in one specific area," said Stevenson.
Over the last year in Kern County, the education and health fields added 1,000 new jobs. Leisure and hospitality added another 1,400 new jobs.
Manufacturing and finance added another 1,100 jobs. All signs of some solid ground in a still shaky economy.