July 19, 2005

Southern Calif. employment seen poised for gains

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Southern California's regional
economy is poised to expand at a healthy pace through 2006,
posting its best payroll growth since 2000 as business picks up
across most industries, a local business group forecast on

The regional leader in job growth will continue to be the
Riverside-San Bernardino area, where nonfarm payrolls will
expand 3 percent this year and next year, according to the Los
Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

San Diego County's nonfarm payrolls will expand by 1.7
percent this year and 1.8 percent next year, and nonfarm
payrolls in Orange County will grow by 1.9 percent this year
and by 1.8 percent in 2006, according to the business group.

The group projected Los Angeles County will continue to
have muted nonfarm job growth of 1.0 percent this year and 1.1
percent next year.

"A lot of industries are kicking in and adding jobs in
Southern California, including aerospace, business and
professional management services, international trade,
technology and tourism," said Jack Kyser, chief economist with
the business group.

"Even though Hollywood is experiencing angst over
disappointing box-office numbers this year, it is still
experiencing job growth," Kyser added. "We're seeing an upturn
in the development of television series pilots. You have to say
thank you to 'Desperate Housewives.' It injected new life into
the scripted TV genre while Hollywood is having a more
difficult time coming up with concepts for reality series."

"Desperate Housewives," was the best-rated new program on
television and helped propel a ratings rebound at network ABC,
a unit of Walt Disney Co. .

Southern California remains the major hub for production of
scripted television programs.

Risks to Southern California's economy include a spike in
oil prices and congestion at the ports of Long Beach and Los
Angeles, the biggest U.S. seaports, Kyser said.

"Some people would throw in the prospect of a housing
'bubble' bursting," Kyser said, referring to the region's
torrid housing market.

"We don't subscribe to that. What we see are home prices
reaching a ceiling because people who have homes and who are
looking to buy a new home all of a sudden will confront the
reality of a big bump up in their property taxes," Kyser said.

Real estate information service DataQuick Information
Systems reported on Monday that home prices and sales in
Southern California reached new highs in June. The median price
paid for a home there rose to $465,000, a gain of 14.5 percent
from a year earlier and 2.0 percent from May, DataQuick said.

DataQuick said 35,454 new and resale homes and condominiums
were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San
Bernardino and Orange counties in June, a rise of 2.1 percent
from a year earlier and 14.8 percent from May.