Los Angeles County’s economy will continue its painfully slow improvement over the next 18 months as the unemployment rate remains in double digits, according to a mid-year economic forecast to be released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

The county’s job growth will remain an anemic 1 percent as the county adds 30,000 jobs this year and an additional 45,000 next year, according to lead forecast author and LAEDC chief economist Robert Kleinhenz. Meanwhile, the county’s unemployment rate will average 11.5 percent this year and only dip to 10.8 percent next year.

“While the county economy has embarked on its journey to recovery, the pace will be slow,” Kleinhenz said in the forecast. “It will take several years to return to the job levels that preceded the recession.”

Most industries will add jobs this year and next, led by the leisure/hospitality sector and professional and business services. But heavy losses in the government sector will offset much of this growth.

The forecast breaks down the county into nine geographic areas. Job growth over the next 18 months is expected to be strongest on L.A.’s Westside, in the downtown area and the San Fernando Valley. South Los Angeles, the harbor area and North Los Angeles County are expected to lag.

In bad news for local governments struggling to balance their budgets, the forecast says growth in sales tax revenue will slow next year to about 4 percent from nearly 6 percent this year.

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