Photo from Pixabay.
Photo from Pixabay.

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate will continue dropping this year and next, maintaining a plunge that has seen the rate drop to its lowest point in nearly two decades, according to an economic forecast released Wednesday.

According to the report by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, the county’s average unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent last year, its lowest point since 2000. LAEDC economists predict in their forecast that the rate will fall to 4.3 percent by the end of this year, and down to 4.1 percent in 2019.

Job growth, which has been averaging 2.5 percent a year since 2011, is expected to slow to 1.9 percent this year and next, “as there are fewer jobs needed to be added as and as the labor market tightens,” according to the report.

The report noted that almost all job sectors added positions last year, with health care and social assistance leading the way by adding 21,800 jobs. That trend is expected to continue over the next two years, forecasters said, with health care and social assistance likely to add 24,660 jobs and administrative/support services expected to add 16,3290 positions.

“As the rate of job creation slows, the number of jobs added will also decline, with 47,800 jobs expected to be added in 2018 and 34,300 in 2019,” according to the report.

Four sectors — manufacturing, retail trade, finance/insurance and natural resources — all reduced jobs last year.

Although housing has been on a generally upward trend in the county, the LAEDC noted that construction has made a notable shift from single-family homes to multi-family projects. According to the report, single-family homes averaged 46 percent of building permits between 2000 and 2005, but that figure dropped to 25 percent last year.

On the national front, the report predicts that the U.S. economy will “remain on a fairly steady, through undistinguished, growth path” for the next few years, with consumer and government spending anticipated to rise.

California, meanwhile, will continue to “outpace the nation in economic growth,” with continued drops in unemployment that will create pressure for wages to rise, according to the report.

—City News Service

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