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Drop in Jobs Seen for L.A. County

California

Economy: Chapman University's forecast says manufacturing, construction sectors will be among hardest hit.

January 16, 2002|MARLA DICKERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After years of solid job growth, Los Angeles County will see payrolls decline in 2002 because of continued weakness in manufacturing and other key industries, according to an economic forecast released Tuesday by Chapman University.

Chapman economists predict that the county will shed 22,000 payroll jobs--a decline of 0.5%--with losses to be felt across every employment sector except government.

Manufacturing and construction will be among the hardest hit industries.

L.A. County ended 2001 with an estimated net gain in payroll employment of 1.1%, or 46,000 jobs, despite the general downturn in the economy and the spike in joblessness after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Negative employment growth in 2002, coupled with higher mortgage rates, is projected to dampen home-buying activity and slow the increase in home values. The Chapman forecast predicts a sharp drop in appreciation for resale single-family homes in L.A. County, to an average of 1% in 2002 from 8.2% in 2001.

Meanwhile, nearly half of California business leaders surveyed say the attacks had a high or moderate effect on their businesses.

Those are some of the findings of a business-climate survey to be released today by the California Business Roundtable and the California Chamber of Commerce.

The 12th annual survey, which polled 400 business leaders from around the state, revealed that 21% said the economic fallout from the terrorist attacks had a high effect on their companies; 26% said the tragedy has had a moderate effect on their operations. A small majority, 51%, said last fall's events have had a minimal effect on their businesses, while 2% didn't know.

The survey also indicated that California's energy crisis remains a concern to the state's business owners. Three-quarters of those surveyed said their energy costs are higher than two years ago, while 57% said those higher costs have had a high or moderate effect on their businesses.

Fewer than half--42%--of California business leaders surveyed said the state is headed in the right direction. Still, 55% said they believe business conditions will improve within a couple of years, and only 2% said they plan to relocate operations to another state.

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