Southern California, still struggling to recover from a punishing recession and the chronic loss of aerospace jobs, is poised for job and economic growth that could outpace the nation through the next decade, according to an economic report released Monday.
The report by the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy projects that employment in the Los Angeles metropolitan area could climb 27.5% between 1993 and 2005.
Fueled by increased construction and retail spending in the short term and fundamental economic growth in the long term, such growth would amount to 1.78 million new jobs, the report says.
That would represent the largest expansion in terms of economic production and the fastest rate of job growth in the United States, the report says. The region includes Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties.
The projections appear optimistic compared to previous statewide projections, including one in June from the UCLA Business Forecasting Project, which predicted that the state's non-farm jobs would remain nearly flat in 1994 and grow only 1.5% in 1995 and 2.4% in 1996.
"The question is whether the historic recession that we hope is over now has lasting repercussions for the California and Los Angeles economies," said David Hensley, an economist with Salomon Bros. in New York. "My view is that it does."
Stephen Levy, the center's director and the report's principal author, said the long-term projections hinge in part on policy changes that would improve the region's education system, upgrade telecommunications and other infrastructure and reduce crime and air pollution.
"The opportunities are not automatic," he said. "We're arguing for where the policy focus should be."
The report is one of the first to make a detailed, long-term projection for the hard-hit Southern California region. So far, the metropolitan Los Angeles area has had the state's largest economic decline, losing 500,000 jobs from 1990 to 1993, the report says.
In a separate report last month, the center predicted that the entire state would add 3.7 million jobs between 1993 and 2005, an average gain of 310,000 jobs a year and an overall increase of 27.2%, outpacing the nation's predicted 17.5% gain.
The report's outlook in the near term is also in keeping with recent data suggesting that the region is finally pulling out of a prolonged economic slump, though aerospace job losses are expected to continue and a round of military base closings is in the offing.
On Monday, Dataquick Information Services reported that statewide building activity rose in June to its highest level since 1991, with a total of $938 million provided by lending institutions to construction projects, an increase of 32.9% over June, 1993.
The report reiterates arguments that for the long term, the region's economic future will be based on foreign trade, professional services, high-tech manufacturing and entertainment and tourism.
Through 2005, professional services could provide the biggest job growth, with 306,300 new jobs, the report says. Wholesale trade and transportation could add 119,900 jobs, and entertainment-tourism could add 137,600.
Southland Job Growth
Jobs in Southern California are expected to increase 27.5% between 1993 and 2005 to a total of 8.25 million, according to a report by the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. Job growth and projections for the three biggest industry groups, in millions:
Sources: Employment Development Department; Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy