Los Angeles County's economy will continue to improve this year and next, with unemployment expected to drop below 10 percent by 2014, coupled with modest gains in job creation, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation said in a forecast released Wednesday.
But forecasters warned that Los Angeles County's nonfarm employment numbers likely won't match their 2007 peak until 2015 or 2016.
Economists noted in their report that the local entertainment industry saw year-over-year gains during most of 2012, with annual employment rising 3.7 percent to nearly 130,000 jobs.
"If the recent trend continues, employment this year will be within range of the 2004 pre-recession high of 132,200 jobs but shy of the 1999 peak of 146,300 jobs,'' according to the LAEDC report. "Whether more substantial job gains can be achieved may depend in part on the success of the California Film Tax Credit program in the coming years.
"Employment growth has been due to a steady rise in local production since the recession. In 2012, on-location film production rose 1.7 percent to 46,254 days, the third consecutive yearly gain.''
Forecasters also predicted that two-way trade through the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex should increase by 3 percent this year, with a growth rate of 4.9 percent predicted for 2014.
"The Los Angeles County economy will continue to show improvement in 2013 and 2014, barring an unforeseen pullback in the national economy,'' according to the report. ``Population should eclipse the 10 million mark by 2014 and nonfarm employment should approach 4 million. Even so, it may be 2015 or 2016 before nonfarm employment exceeds the peak of 4.12 million reached in 2007.''
The economists noted that Orange County's economy is expanding at a faster pace than the nation and the state, with an annual average unemployment rate of 7.6 percent last year. The county's rate in December was 6.8 percent, the lowest in Southern California.
"Orange County's economy is expanding and the near-term outlook is growing brighter,'' according to the economic forecast. ``In many ways, Orange County, with the collapse of a number of locally based mortgage giants was hit harder by the financial crisis and the recession that followed than other regions in Southern California.
"Initially lagging behind the national recovery, Orange County's recovery quickly gathered strength. The region is now seeing renewed development activity -- several long-delayed construction projects are set to move forward.''
- City News Service