Campus: CSU Northridge -- October 28, 2005

San Fernando Valley Continues to Experience Job Growth, New CSUN Report Says

The future is looking well for the San Fernando Valley as the area continues to build on the job gains made last year, according to a new study issued today by Cal State Northridge researchers.

The Valley's private sector added 11,800 workers to its employment rolls in 2004, a 1.8 percent increase that compares favorably to the 1.2 percent increase the area experienced in 2003. Valley growth compares favorably to Los Angeles County's job growth increase of only 1 percent or the state's overall increase of just 1.3 percent in 2004.

"Job growth in the Valley is strong, and the outlook is for it to remain strong over the next few years," said Daniel Blake, director of CSUN's San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center. "The housing boom is also alive and well in the Valley, both in terms of home prices and residential construction activity. Our major challenge comes from our infrastructure, or lack of it--traffic and transportation improvements are a must for the Valley to cope with its current residential and commercial activity, let alone future growth."

The Valley's private-sector payrolls also increased by $1.9 billion, and average earnings by almost $2,000. However, these gains were tempered by inflation, which ate half the payroll increase and three-quarters of the increase in average pay.

Valley industries with strong job growth in 2004 included construction, with an 8 percent increase; management, support and administration, with a 5.3 percent increase; retail trade, with a 3.7 percent increase; and accommodations and food services, with a 3.5 percent increase.

Weaker employment performances were turned in by the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing sectors, down 2.9 percent, and manufacturing, down 2.8 percent. The loss was not as severe for manufacturing as in 2003, when the industry lost 4.2 percent of its jobs.

The entertainment industry saw a 3.3 percent increase in jobs, which was upstaged by stellar growth of 7.3 percent in its payroll. The Valley's fledgling biotech industry lost 1 percent of its workers, but added an impressive 9.3 percent to its payroll.

Consistent with the positive job growth news, the Valley's unemployment insurance claims continued to fall. Seasonally adjusted unemployment claims now stand just above their lowest levels in the Valley's 1995-2000 recovery period.

Northridge's San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center released its annual report on the state of the San Fernando Valley economy today at the 17th Annual Valley Industry and Commerce Association Business Forecast Conference.

Each year, researchers at the center take a comprehensive look at what is happening in the Valley-an area roughly bounded by the Santa Susana Mountains to the north and west, the Santa Monica Mountains to the south and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east-both economically and socially.

Among their findings:

  • Commercial vacancy rates ratcheted downward, dropping more than 2 percentage points to register below 10 percent in the second quarter of 2005, compared to the nation's average of nearly 15 percent. The Valley's industrial vacancy rate notched down to 2.5 percent from its 3 percent level last year, consistent with the very tight industrial space market in Los Angeles.

  • Home prices continued their steep ascent with median prices rising to $600,000 in July 2005, but annual appreciation rates slowed noticeably from last year's mid 20 percent to low 30 percent range. The Valley's inventory is up from its record lows in 2004 but remain below normal.

  • The Valley's apartment vacancy rates averaged 3.7 percent in the third quarter of 2005, up from 3 percent in the same quarter last year. The rise in vacancy rates, which have been stuck below 3 percent for four years, should spell some relief for Valley renters even though the vacancy rate is below the 4 to 5 percent range that many consider normal. The Valley vacancy rate still remains below the one for the entire city of Los Angeles.

  • Valley tourism and travel activity indicators were all positive with strong growth in nearby theme park attendance, higher hotel occupancy and rising room rates, and growing airport passenger traffic at Bob Hope Airport, which also logged record high air cargo volume.

  • Valley population growth continued to slow. Contributing factors include roughly level birth rates in 2004, a slightly higher number of deaths, and positive but declining net in-migration. The person per household count continues to rise across the Valley as the population still grows faster than the available housing stock.

  • Public and private school enrollments continued to drop, down 2.3 percent in 2004-05 and down 0.6 percent in 2003-04. The losses are felt in all Valley school districts. Hispanics remained the dominant group in public schools, making up 63 percent of the students, and API scores at Valley public schools generally rose.

  • Incidences of poverty are up slightly, rising from 15 percent in 2000 to 15.3 percent in 2004.

  • Some quality of life measures showed improvement, and others did not. Annual air quality statistics continued to improve by most measures but new ozone standards effective in 2005 showed elevated ozone levels in 2002 through 2004, especially in the West Valley.
Crime rates generally eased slightly in 2004 for most Valley cities and areas. Three-quarters of Valley workers commute alone in a car, truck or van, while the other quarter used more environmentally-friendly means, including the 5 percent who work at home. Freeway traffic congestion did not improve last year.

For a copy of the report, contact CSUN's San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at (818) 677-7021 or via e-mail at

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