Los Angeles Business Journal

Forecast: Slow, Steady Economic Growth for L.A.

By Howard Fine Wednesday, July 17, 2013

L.A. County’s economy will continue its broad but frustratingly slow improvement during the rest of this year and into next year, according to a regional forecast to be released Wednesday.

The county should add about 65,000 jobs this year to a total of 3.93 million, a growth rate of 1.7 percent, according to the forecast from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Almost every sector is on track to add jobs, led by leisure and hospitality, health care and construction. The only exception: manufacturing, which will shed about 3,000 jobs, or 1 percent.

Employment growth is expected to slow slightly next year, with the county adding 50,000 jobs, for a growth rate of 1.3 percent. Forecast co-author and LAEDC Chief Economist Robert Kleinhenz said that a couple sectors that had been growing faster than historical average – leisure/hospitality and private education – should return to more normal job growth levels. Also, relatively meager growth in the global and national economies will hold down job creation.

The forecast says the number of nonfarm payroll jobs in Los Angeles County is not expected to reach its pre-recession peak of 4.1 million until 2015 or 2016. And the unemployment rate, currently 9.2 percent, will not dip below 7 percent for several more years.

“This is not the breakout growth we would like to see, but it is steady and sustained growth,” Kleinhenz said in a conference call with reporters yesterday. “So it will take at least a couple more years before we reach pre-recession employment levels.”

While job growth is expected to slow, total personal income and taxable retail sales are likely to see accelerated growth rates, the forecast said. Total personal income is forecast to grow 2.1 percent this year and 4.9 percent next year, while taxable sales will increase 3.1 percent this year and 3.8 percent next year.

Within Los Angeles County, job growth is expected to be greatest on the Westside, with its high concentration of professional and technology jobs. Job growth averaged 3 percent in 2012 and similar growth is expected this year and next year. Kleinhenz said much of central Los Angeles County will lag the region, with job growth under 1 percent