Economic growth in L.A. County will slow through the rest of 2007 and into 2008, but the county will still perform better than surrounding counties that have been harder hit by the housing slowdown, according to a forecast from California State University Long Beach to be released Thursday.

The annual forecast projects job growth in L.A. County to slow to 1.3 percent in 2007 and even further to 1.2 percent in 2008 from the comparatively robust level of 1.7 percent in 2006. That 2006 growth was largely driven by the stabilization of a long-term decline in the manufacturing sector.

"Growth is expected to slow in the housing related sectors of construction and finance," the forecast states. "But Los Angeles County did not experience a housing boom to the same extent as the other counties in the region since the county is built out. As a result, the downturn will not affect the county as much as other parts of the region."

While housing and retail especially those retail segments related to housing like home improvement stores are expected to slow, other sectors are expected to remain strong and offset this. Among these is the health and private education sector, which is expected to add jobs at a 3.5 percent in 2007, up from 2.1 percent last year. Growth in the professional and business services sector is also expected to remain strong at 2.1 percent in 2007.

The forecast also took a look at the economy of Long Beach, the county's second largest city, saying the city should add 3,300 net jobs in 2007, about the same pace as in both 2005 and 2006. The primary job creating machine for Long Beach is the city's port, which together with the neighboring Port of Los Angeles handles 40 percent of the nation's container traffic.

One small sector of the Long Beach economy enjoyed unexpected growth last year: oil and gas extraction. As crude oil prices rose, the number of jobs in that sector roughly tripled to 1,400 from about 400.

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