Los Angeles Business Journal

LAEDC Forecast Still Sees Slow Recovery

By Howard Fine Wednesday, February 15, 2012

L.A. County’s economy will continue its slow climb from the recession this year, with the unemployment rate dropping to 11.5 percent, according to a forecast by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

But the pace of the recovery is expected to quicken next year.

This year’s gains in health services, international trade, entertainment, tourism and private education will lead the county in a gradually accelerating recovery, according to the forecast released today. On the flip side, growth will be slowed by continuing cutbacks in local and state government workers and weakness in the construction industry.

The county should also see modest single digit percentage gains in personal income and taxable retail sales this year. Building permits should see double-digit percentage growth, though slightly off last year’s growth pace. About 23,000 jobs could be added to payrolls.

Robert Kleinhenz, LAEDC chief economist and forecast lead author, said the pace of recovery this year will be frustratingly slow.

“We may not ‘sense’ that the economy is improving as we move through the year, but when we look back at the end of the year the gains will be evident,” he said.

But Kleinhenz said the economy should gather more steam next year, with the unemployment rate dropping below 11 percent and about 45,000 jobs added to payrolls for a job growth rate of 1.2 percent.

“There should be fewer mixed signals next year on the direction of the L.A. economy and its key sectors, so businesses and consumers will sense that improvement is taking place,” he said.