The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Report: Unemployment still dropping in Los Angeles County, but job growth is slow

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The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. said Wednesday that the region made steady job gains, but it could take years before employment reaches the peak levels seen before the Great Recession.

Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist with LAEDC, said he thinks Southern California counties and regions will add jobs at a rate of 1 percent to 2.5 percent this year and in 2014. 

"None of it responds to the breakout growth we would like to see, but it's pretty steady and sustained growth," Kleinhenz said.

Gains were seen in sectors like leisure and hospitality and construction, the economist said. Job losses were in sectors such as manufacturing, he added.

Kleinhenz expects the only county in Southern California to reach pre-recession levels of employment next year is San Diego County. He said the area is boosted by the growth in the biomedical industry. 

Kleinhenz's observations were part of LAEDC's mid-year economic forecast. He said Southern California saw a boost in home prices over the last year due to fewer homes for sale. Still, prices are well below 2006 and 2007 levels, the economist said.

The median price for a home in Southern California was $357,000 in April, up 23 percent from a year ago, according to San Diego-based research firm DataQuick. Some realtors have said first-time home buyers are having difficulty competing with investors, who are paying for homes in cash.

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