Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Economy to Grow, See Record Employment Level this Year

By Howard Fine Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The good times should continue to roll for the local economy.

That’s the message from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. in its annual forecast to be released this morning.

Los Angeles County should add a total of 150,000 payroll jobs over the course of this year and next, bringing employment to record levels, according to the forecast from the LAEDC’s Kyser Center for Economic Research. What’s more, the unemployment rate should dip to 6.6 percent by the end of next year, its lowest level in eight years.

The forecast estimates the county will add 80,000 nonfarm payroll jobs this year, for a growth rate of 1.9 percent. That should propel the county to a new record employment level of 4.27 million, finally surpassing the 2007 pre-recession peak. And the county should add another 70,000 jobs next year, to reach 4.34 million.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate should be heading in the other direction – more good news. After stalling out around 8 percent for the second half of 2014, the rate should tick down to an average of 7.2 percent over the course of this year, and 6.6 percent for next year.

This employment growth should translate into sizeable gains in personal income and sales tax revenues. Personal income for county residents should increase 4.6 percent this year and 5 percent next year, a welcome change after several years of very modest growth. And sales taxes should post gains topping 5 percent this year and next, adding revenues to local government coffers.

Looking at the broader Southern California region, the report says the biggest job gains should come in healthcare/social assistance, professional and technical services, government and construction. Only the catch-all category “other services” should see a decline.

The forecast does highlight a couple concerns for L.A. County’s economy this year: the growth in international trade could slow if the labor problems at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are not sorted out soon. And the shortage of affordable housing is expected to grow even more acute; the report cites this as the major reason why population growth has slowed to a mere 0.5 percent annually.