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Orange County Economic Growth Outpaces Most of State and Nation

December 11, 1987|DAVE LESHER | Times Staff Writer

Once again, Orange County released its annual Progress Report on Thursday and nearly all of its economic and growth indicators had gone up and far outpaced most of the state and the nation.

While the county's civilian labor force grew to 1,249,000, its unemployment rate dropped to 4% in 1986, down from 4.4% in 1985. Meanwhile, the national average in 1986 was 7% and California's was 6.7%.

"During 1986-87, Orange County continued to progress and prosper as a dynamic economic and employment center," Roger R. Stanton, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, wrote in the report. "The number of persons in the labor force expanded and the annual average unemployment rate of 4.0 was as low as it has been in over 10 years."

The Progress Report has been compiled by the county annually for the past 24 years. It is intended to be a research document for city and county planners, full of statistics but little analysis.

Its information covers a wide variety of demographic data from population and migration trends to construction, consumer prices, school enrollments, income averages, ethnic mixes and voter registrations. Many of the statistics cover the period through the end of 1986, although some areas also include figures from 1987.

The report will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, and it is scheduled to be available to the public, in $15 bound copies, by the end of the month.

The report shows increases in almost every category of the county's report, including population, the birth rate, the death rate, immigration, driver's licenses, school enrollment, taxable sales, registered vehicles. All of the construction categories also showed huge gains.

The number of building permits for multiple-family units jumped 40% between 1985 and 1986, and the total number of residential building permits was up 25% during that year.

The value of buildings constructed in 1986 was $3.3 billion, up about 23% from 1985 when it was $2.7 billion. In 1986, about $1.5 billion of the total construction was for commercial and industrial property while the rest was for new homes.

Orange County's commercial and industrial construction was the second highest in the state last year, behind Los Angeles. Orange County was the third highest in the value of its residential construction behind Los Angeles and San Diego.

The county's population also rose about 2% between 1985 and 1986, to a total of 2,193,614. It is the third largest of California's 58 counties behind Los Angeles and San Diego.

The fastest-growing cities were Yorba Linda (8.5%), San Clemente (8.5%), Irvine (6.7%) and San Juan Capistrano (5.2%). The growth moved Irvine with 94,139 people from eighth largest in the county to seventh and San Clemente (34,780) from 19th place to 18th place.

The largest cities continued to be Anaheim with 242,161 people, Santa Ana with 227,398 and Huntington Beach with 186,757.

But while Orange County was still growing rapidly, the pace dropped off slightly, according to the report.

Based on driver's license changes, about 100,000 people moved to Orange County last year and about 91,000 people left for a net gain of about 9,700. That was down from a net gain the previous year of 13,280 people.

The county's population density also rose 2% to 2,791 people per square mile. That is up from 175 people per square mile in 1950; 1,807 in 1970 and 2,445 in 1980.

The median family income was also reported at $43,264 in 1987, up about $1,800 from 1986. It is also up from $28,705 in 1980.

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