Explaining Southern California's economy

California and LA unemployment: Improving, but very slowly

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A "we are hiring" sign is displayed on a table during the San Francisco Hirevent job fair. California's jobless rate in October fell to 10.1 percent from 10.2 percent.

The California Employment Development Department released its report on October jobs in the state Friday. The federal Labor Department will release its report next week. The story is good, in a tenth-of-a-percentage-point kind of way: the jobless rate fell to 10.1% in October, from September's 10.2%.

In Los Angeles, the unemployment rate dropped to 10.5 from 10.6%.

"We're seeing everything start to move in he right direction," said Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, an economist with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. "We're edging closer to breaking that 10% mark."

That could happen soon if California continues to add jobs as it has at a faster clip than the nation as a whole. In the U.S. jobs are being added at a rate of 1.5%. In California, the rate is 2.1%, driven by the strong performance of the tech sector in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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LAX is a regional economic force. But it still needs major work

LAX Encounter restaurant

Photo by monkeytime | brachiator via Flickr Creative Commons

LAX is a major economics force in the L.A. region. But will billions in renovations help it to maintain that status — and bring in more passengers?

Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth busiest air transportation hub in the world. According to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, it accounted for almost 300,000 jobs in L.A. county in 2011; generated more than $13 billion in labor income; promoted nearly $40 billion in economic output; and brought in $2.5 billion is state and local revenue.

LAX: the jewel in the crown of one of America's most dynamic economic regions!

Also, a facility in desperate need of fixing up. Back in April, readers of Travel + Leisure magazine ranked it the second-worst airport in the nation, behind New York's LaGuardia, where tattered memories of the Jet Set go to die. Here's the writeup:

LAX ranked at the bottom of most categories—that includes location (20th), check-in and security process (21st), impression of safety standards (22nd), baggage handling (20th), staff communication (21st), and terminal cleanliness (21st). Clearly, this worn-out airport is ready for a major Hollywood makeover.

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California's economy is headed in the right direction, but recovery will be slow

Los Angeles skyline

David McNew/Getty Images

Los Angeles should start to catch up on its economic recovery in 2012 and 2013, according to LAEDC economists.

The Kyser Center for Economic Development, part of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC), has just released its 2012-13 mid-year forecast for the nation, the state, and various metropolitan regions in the Southern California. The data contained in the report is considerable, so I'm going to focus on the national and regional picture in this post, with an emphasis on Los Angeles County.

The Kyser economists aren't predicting a recession in 2012 or 2013. But they do anticipate sluggish, subpar growth: 2 percent GDP growth in the U.S. for this year, and only 2.2 percent growth for next year. They don't see the unemployment rate falling nationally by much over the next two years. It's currently at 8.3 percent — and by the end of next year, it will be at 8 percent.

There's a very big however in all this fairly grim prognostication: inflation should remain low for the 2012-13 period. This means that we're not seeing a repeat of the dreaded "stagflation" of the 1970s, when we had weak growth, high unemployment, and prices rising through the ceiling. What's happening now is different: the economy is wading through muck and mire, struggling to make any gains, and people have become so frustrated with the job market that they're dropping out completely, possibly never to return. I call this this "stuckflation." This is an economy that isn't tipping into recession, but that can't gain any momentum.

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