Despite rising energy prices and fears of a housing slowdown, the regional economy is performing robustly, according to a pair of economic reports released Tuesday.

In its mid-year forecast, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. projected an increase of 265,000 nonfarm jobs statewide for 2005, a 1.8 percent jump over 2004 levels and the best jobs performance since 2000.

Los Angeles County is expected to lag the state, with growth of 41,200, or 1 percent, in nonfarm jobs for 2005. However, LAEDC chief economist Jack Kyser, who presented his forecast Tuesday at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel as part of a business forecast presented by the Business Journal, said the figure understates actual job growth, since it does not account for rising numbers of independent contractors or consultants.

Job growth in L.A. County is being led by the aerospace, business and professional services, technology and tourism sectors. Within L.A. County, the East San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and West Los Angeles showed the most growth, while South L.A. and the southeast corner of L.A. County lagged.

Meanwhile, the state's manufacturing sector continues to expand, according to a quarterly report from Chapman University's A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research in Orange. The center's composite manufacturing index stood at 60.7 for the second quarter, virtually unchanged from 60.8 in the first quarter. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.

The Chapman report said that the durable goods sector (products intended to last at least three years) is showing the most growth, with the exception of high-tech products. The index for new orders for manufactured goods stood at 63.2, rebounding from a first quarter drop and indicating solid manufacturing growth ahead.

However, manufacturers are not adding large numbers of employees to their payrolls; one-third of those surveyed said they added jobs in the second quarter, while 45 percent kept employment levels steady and 20 percent cut their workforces.

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