Explaining Southern California's economy

California's jobless rate falls to 7.6 percent

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California unemployment rate continued its steady decline in May to 7.6 percent, thanks in part to the addition of nearly 40 thousand jobs.

California's unemployment rate hit 7.6 percent in May, maintaining its steady decline to pre-recession levels, the state Employment Development Department reported on Friday.

The state is now just 1,800 jobs short of its employment peak seven years ago — before the Great Recession. California's job growth is outpacing the country's and is second only to Texas. California added 40,000 jobs in May. 

Jordan Levine of Beacon Economics said businesses throughout the country have invested in infrastructure and efficiency, and that plays to California's strengths.     

"And I'm thinking about things like professional, scientific, and technical consulting services, or software development, or different types of equipment that help businesses do a lot more with less," Levine told KPCC.


Fall horse racing meet to move from Pomona Fairplex to Los Alamitos


Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A rider warms up a race horse during a morning workout session at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County has already added some thoroughbred horse racing dates to its calendar. Now it's about to add even more. 

On Thursday, the California Horse Racing Board unanimously approved a plan to move a horse racing meet that normally happens at Pomona’s Fairplex during the Los Angeles County Fair to Los Alamitos. 

Pomona’s Fairplex has featured horse racing for more than seven decades, but officials say attendance and betting at the horse racing track has declined in recent years.  Los Alamitos executive Brad McKenzie told the state horse racing board that management from both facilities agreed that now’s the right time to move the meet.

"It means more opportunity to present this sport into a new market, and more opportunity for us to have money for further infrastructure," Mckenzie told the board, adding that it will lead to more betting and therfore bigger purses at Los Alamitos. 


Ports of LA and Long Beach do brisk business given potential labor dispute

containers maersk ship port of los angeles long beach san pedro

Photo by Izabela Reimers via Flickr Creative Commons

Cargo containers at the Port of Los Angeles

Cargo volumes rose last month at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  It’s good news, but the reason for the rise might be a little unsettling.

The Port of Long Beach had its busiest May since 2007, handling nearly 600,000 container units, 2.7 percent more than May of 2013.  At the Port of Los Angeles, the rise was more dramatic: 689,141 container units, an 8 percent jump over May of 2013.  

"We’re off to a good start here," said Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield, adding that for the first five months of the year, cargo volumes are up 8.2 percent. 

But Sanfield said part of the increase in the last few months is due to a potential labor dispute.  Since May 12, The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have been engaged in negotiations for a new labor contract covering nearly 20,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports.   The current contract expires at the end of June, so retailers are rushing to move goods early.


Will second Stanley Cup win make LA a hockey town?

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Trevor Lewis #22 and Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings hoists the Stanley Cup in celebration after defeating the New York Rangers 3-2 in double overtime of Game Five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Three years ago, Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Dufresne ranked the Kings as the 10th most popular team in L.A., behind even a team that plays almost 400 miles away, the Oakland Raiders.

"That was then, this is now," Dufresne said Monday in an e-mail.

Hockey will never be as loved as football, basketball, or baseball here, but the Kings long-term value is improving, says Forbes’ Executive Editor Michael Ozanian.

“You have to look at the Kings not just for the extra, let's say, three million in profit they get per home playoff game, but now when people think about the Kings today as opposed to five years ago they’re thinking about a Stanley Cup Champion,” Ozanian said.

Forbes estimates the team is worth $450 million, which makes them only the tenth most valuable NHL franchise. Smaller markets like Toronto (worth $1.1 billion) and Pittsburg (worth $480 million) do better because more people there watch hockey.


Calif. legislators tasked with sweetening film tax incentive pot

David McNew/Getty Images

A film crew on location in downtown Los Angeles. (File photo)

The California Legislature may have passed a budget for the next fiscal year, but it doesn't address one very important issue to Hollywood: expanding the state's Film and Television Tax Incentive program.

The bill to expand it passed the State Assembly and is now before the Senate. So far, the bill's supporters have avoided saying how much money they want added, but dollar figures should begin surface in coming days or weeks. 

Right now, the pot stands at $100 million. That's what the California Film Commission divvies up each year in tax credits to certain films and TV shows that shoot in the state. So how much more money are supporters looking for?

"They would first and foremost love to have enough money so that they don't have to rely on a lottery," said Kevin Klowden, managing economist at non-partisan think tank the Milken Institute