As the housing bubble unwinds, housing related employment will fall; and fall dramatically in areas like the Inland Empire. The more an area is dependent on housing, the larger the negative impact on the local economy will be.
So I think some pundits have it backwards: Instead of a strong local economy keeping housing afloat, I think the bursting housing bubble will significantly impact housing dependent local economies.
And sure enough, the economies of housing dependent areas like the Inland Empire were devastated during the housing bust. The good news is the Inland Empire is expanding solidly now.