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SOUTHLAND BUSINESS

Region Packs More Economic Power Than Many Nations, Bank Survey Shows

May 03, 1987|JOHN M. BRODER

It's no secret that the Los Angeles area has one of the world's largest, richest and most diverse economies. A new study by Security Pacific details just how big and varied the regional economy is.

The area within a radius of 60 miles of downtown Los Angeles has the second-largest concentration of population, employment, business, industry and finance in the United States, exceeded only by the New York metropolis. Los Angeles-area personal income exceeds that of Chicago by nearly 50%.

Put another way, only the entire states of California, New York and Texas have greater economic power than the Los Angeles region. Although the 60-mile circle includes only 5% of the land area of California, it contains 45.6% of the state's population, 46% of its personal income, 56% of its manufacturing employment, 67% of its total international trade and 58% of the headquarters of the 100 largest industrial companies based in California.

In total sales of goods and services, the 60-mile circle ranks 12th in the world, behind Canada, China and Brazil but ahead of India, Spain and Mexico. In gross product per person, a common measure of wealth and economic activity, the Los Angeles region ranks fourth in the world, trailing only the small oil-producing nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Brunei.

The Security Pacific study said the region's 12 million residents spent that wealth in some ostentatious and idiosyncratic ways. For example:

- One Rolls-Royce is sold in the area every two days.

- One in 39 residents owns a pleasure boat.

- Los Angeles motorists use as much gasoline every two weeks as Alaskans use in a year.

- Residents consume twice as much wine per person as the average American.

- About 11% of all in-ground swimming pools in the United States are in the Los Angeles area.

- One in four Los Angeles residents spends money gambling each year.

- Residents own 10.6% of all electric juicers in the United States.

- More than half of the residents take vitamins.

- On an average day, 207,000 Angelenos are cooling off at the beach.

The study predicts that the largest provider of new jobs in the region for the rest of the decade will be services--from law and accounting firms to restaurants and dry cleaning shops. Manufacturing employment will continue to grow but will lose some of its 20% share of total jobs. The annual rate for population growth for the years 1990-95 will be 6%, dropping to 4.5% for the following five years. By the year 2000, the Greater Los Angeles area will be home to nearly 14 million people.

"While Greater Los Angeles has a solid economic base, problems are inevitable," the bank notes at the conclusion of its mostly upbeat report. "Housing affordability and growing traffic congestion are two well-known issues. Government will need to be sensitive to changing economic needs of the community and continue to provide an adequate infrastructure. Area businesses will face increasing national, regional and international competition."

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