Explaining Southern California's economy

Economists say LA's high-tech sector rivals Silicon Valley in providing jobs

Oblong Demo

Brian Watt/KPCC

A demo at Oblong Industries, which employs 75 people in downtown LA's Arts District. Oblong makes collaborative computer interfaces. Its CEO, John Underkoffler designed the computer interfaces seen in the movie "Minority Report".

A report released Monday says Los Angeles County now has more high-tech sector jobs than other well-known tech centers, including Santa Clara County (the heart of Silicon Valley), the Boston-Cambridge area, and the five boroughs of New York City. 

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) Institute for Applied Economics authored the report, with sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase.  It says that in 2013, the high-tech sector employed 368, 580 people in Los Angeles County.  Another 104,680 people were performing high-tech duties for companies outside the high-tech sector.

The jobs come from a wide range of industries, including aerospace, bio-pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consulting and software publishing.  "We (Los Angeles County) have a whole range of industries that are associated with high-tech," said LAEDC Vice President Christine Cooper, the study's lead author  "So it's not surprising to see that this a very large sector in our economy," Cooper told KPCC.  


LA County report: More people finding good jobs in a growing economy

job seekers have their resumes reviewed at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif., in June 2012.

Jae C. Hong/AP

Job seekers have their resumes reviewed at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif.

Fewer Angelenos are unemployed today than one year ago, and many are earning more and spending more.  That is the conclusion of a regional forecast released Wednesday from Beacon Economics.

The regional forecast says from July 2013 to July 2014, the number of unemployed people in Los Angeles County fell 18.6 percent, from 490,300 to 399,000. The unemployment rate in the County fell during the same period, from 10.0 percent to 8.1 percent.  "Overall, Beacon Economics is forecasting employment levels in Los Angeles County to return to their pre-recession peak by the middle of 2o15," the report says.

Many local residents have been able to find work in high-paying sectors like Information,  Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Care, according to the report, which estimates per capita income in LA County grew nearly 1.8 percent from early last year to early this year.  


CityLab 2014: The sharing economy takes center stage in LA

CityLab 2014

Ben Bergman/KPCC

From left to right: Ronald Brownstein, Editorial Director, Atlantic Media; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre speak on a panel about immigration at CityLab 2014.

Over the last three days, hundreds of leaders from cities around the world have converged in Los Angeles to share ideas at the CityLab: Urban Solutions to Global Challenges conference.

The event attracted mayors from as far away as Israel and Greece and as nearby as Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, spoke about how his city has opened its doors to immigrants. Like most speakers at the program, he believes cities are where all the action is these days.

“I tell people if you don’t want to spend your whole life changing the world, come work in cities,” Reed told a lunchtime audience Tuesday. “We know our country’s GDP, 70 percent-plus is in cities and we know our population centers, 70 percent plus are in metros.”

It has been just a year since the first CityLab conference was held in New York, but much has changed since then, said April Rinne, whose title is Sharable Cities Advisor.


Who have been the winners and losers in the Dodgers TV dispute?

Kershow Shutout in SF

Getty Images

Opening Day has come and gone. So has the All-Star Game, a pair of no-hitters, and a pennant race. Through it all the Dodgers have been invisible to most Southern California cable subscribers

In March, Dodgers President Stan Kasten told me that Sportsnet LA would be widely available by Opening Day, if not before.

“We remain optimistic that in short order we’re going to have full coverage throughout the market because it’s something this incredibly deep and loyal fan base wants to have,” Kasten predicted. 

Opening Day has come and gone. So has the All-Star Game, a pair of no-hitters, and a pennant race. Through it all the Dodgers have been invisible to most of Southern California TV viewers because Time Warner Cable still hasn't been able to make deals with any major providers. Dodger fans have been the biggest losers, but there have also been some winners. 



Time Warner was hoping enough DirecTV customers would cancel their subscriptions that the satellite provider would be forced to capitulate to Time Warner's demands. It didn't happen. DirecTV saw fewer cancellations than it expected and found many sympathetic customers who bought the company's argument that it was trying to hold the line against higher pay-TV bills. 


FAA decision paves way for drone use in US films; allows 6 production companies to use drones in filming


Photo by Vince LoPresti via Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration will allow six production companies to fly drones for the purpose of shooting films, television shows or other video products.

The decision, announced Thursday by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, is the first step to allowing the film and television industry to use drones — or "unmanned aircraft systems" in the National Airspace System. 

"There has been a lot of interest around this technology lately, and I have determined that using unmanned aircraft for this purpose does not pose a risk to national airspace users," Secretary Foxx said on a conference call.

"We're introducing unmanned aircraft into America's airspace incrementally and with the interest of safety first," said FAA administrator Huerta."This process opens up a whole new avenue for companies and organizations wishing to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into their business."