San Gabriel Valley:

Bright Spots Emerge as Economy Settles in for Long Recovery

Wedged between the coast and inland areas, San Gabriel Valley’s economy is signaling green shoots into 2021 and sustained growth in 2022 as this region recovers faster than the entire county due to a unique mixture of businesses, households, and its geographic location.

That’s according to the most recent forecast presented by the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. These experts’ opinions spotlight intriguing viewpoints, trends and projections so your credit union can plan appropriately.

San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership
Presented on March 24 by the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (“A Shot in the Arm: What SoCal and the World Need for Economic Recovery”):

San Gabriel Valley’s total employed workers and unemployment rate probably won’t reach their pre-pandemic levels until sometime in 2023. In 2019, the region had nearly 703,000 non-farm corporate payroll jobs (workers employed) and boasted a low unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. In 2020, that total-jobs figure dropped to 638,000 (unemployment rate of 9.7 percent) — although by late 2022 it will have risen back to 680,000 (unemployment rate of 7.5 percent compared to the 21 percent in May of 2020). Meanwhile, the region’s population will remain the same (approximately 1.87 million residents).

San Gabriel Valley boasts limited leisure/hospitality and tourism attractions compared to the western/coastal areas of Los Angeles County and Orange County — an important fact in its continuing recovery. The State of California’s sustained business restrictions coming out of late 2020 and early 2021 will have impacted local economic growth all the way into late 2021 and early 2022. However, San Gabriel Valley has fared relatively better under these business restrictions, comparatively speaking, than western/coastal Los Angeles County and Orange County.

While San Gabriel Valley’s unemployment rate trended noticeably higher than Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 recession in 2020, it has now been trending lower for many months. The valley’s unemployment rate reached 21 percent in May 2020 as the county’s hit 18 percent — but today, the valley stands at about 9.5 percent while the county’s is 13 percent (essentially flipped). Compared to the valley, the entire county has a slightly higher proportion of hard-hit job market sectors, such as workers furloughed or laid off in leisure/hospitality, tourism, entertainment, broadcasting/telecommunications, video/media/sound recording, educational services, and transportation/warehousing connected to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

City-level unemployment in the San Gabriel Valley varies depending on the area, with higher-income residential cities faring better than lower-income neighborhoods. Cities with the highest unemployment rates (12 – 15 percent) are Pomona and Bell Gardens; those with moderately-high unemployment rates (9 – 12 percent) are Highland Park, Monterey Park, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Whittier, Downey, Covina, West Covina, Azusa, and La Puente; and those with moderate-to-lower unemployment rates (4.1 – 8.9 percent and less than 4 percent) are La Canada Flintridge, Altadena, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, East Los Angeles, South Whittier, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Yorba Linda, Hacienda Heights, Arcadia, Monrovia, Glendora, Diamond Bar, Chino Hills, and Claremont.

As of January 2021, there were year-over-year percentage declines in all local employment industries across San Gabriel Valley — except one. Leisure/hospitality (-19 percent), “other” services such as salons/personal care (-12 percent), and retail trade (-9 percent) nearly outweighed all other negatively declining job sectors combined (professional/business services, information, wholesale trade, manufacturing, educational services, government, finance/insurance, health care and social assistance, and construction). However, the one “bright spot” sector was transportation/warehousing and utilities (3 percent year-over-year growth).

As of March 2021, real-time San Gabriel Valley job growth varied greatly depending on the industry. The highest-growing industries right now (estimated) are health care, logistics, and professional/business services. Going a notch down, the industries “doing well” are real estate, construction, rental/leasing, and real estate finance. And going even lower, those that are “hard hid but recovering” are health care and retail trade, while the “hardest hit” are restaurants/bars, personal services, government, and hotels.

Industries to watch as the San Gabriel Valley’s economy continues recovering are “traded industries” and “local industries”. “Traded industries” include logistics, tourism, manufacturing, and specialized health care — and their importance lies in the fact they serve markets outside of the valley, are a source of ongoing business/household income growth, and increase the valley’s total economic pie while also distributing that wealth locally. “Local industries” include hospitality, retail trade, general health care, “other” services, and personal services — and their importance lies in the fact they directly serve the valley, contribute to the identity of local neighborhoods and shopping/commerce districts, provide local amenities, and also provide a synergy between the local area and the outside.

You can view the entire report: Read "A Shot in the Arm: What SoCal and the World Need for Economic Recovery (2021 San Gabriel Valley Economic Forecast Report)":

  • San Gabriel Valley: pages 13 – 20 (economic recovery, the COVID-19 pandemic, local business/workforce industries, real estate, demographics, and forecast/outlook).
  • California: pages 8 – 11 (employment/jobs, housing, fiscal outlook, and economic outlook).
  • National/United States: pages 3 – 5 (COVID-19 pandemic setbacks, early stages of recovery, and gross domestic product—GDP).
  • You can also view the slide presentation containing trends on the local economy, jobs, housing, commercial/residential real estate, and more (San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles County, California, and the United States).

Caltrans’ County-Level Economic Forecast
Released in December 2020 by Caltrans (the California Department of Transportation):

You can view Caltrans’ economic, demographic, housing, population, job, inflation, and industry breakdown forecasts for each county. Click on the following to view local trends and projections from 2021 – 2025: Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles Regional Small Business Activity
Updated routinely by Homebase, a provider of real-time digital tools for small businesses:

Small business activity across the greater Los Angeles region was down at varying amounts compared to pre-COVID levels as of late February 2021. Activity was down -24 to -26 percent depending on the measurement analyzed. Put into context, the region was down between -53 to -88 percent at intermittent periods in April, September, November and December of 2020 and January of 2021 before starting a meaningful recovery. Measurements include the volume of hours worked by employees, the number of businesses open, and the number of employees actually working. You can click here to learn more and pick your region.

CU Weekly (the League’s weekly recap)
Published on April 16:

California continued to slowly add jobs to its labor market and economy in March. Meanwhile, local economists are projecting faster growth as springtime transpires. Read more here.

Los Angeles County: Demographics, Labor, Education & Economic Resources

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