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I By SAMANTHA MEHLINGER Long Beach Business Journal T he good news for California is that the state is leading the nation in terms of job growth with all but one of the states metropolitan areas that represent 90 to 95 percent of the states total population reporting steady job creation. The problem is that many Californians even those who are employed cannot afford to buy a home or even pay average rental prices for apartments. This situation begs the question are the right kinds of jobs being created to support the cost of living and demand for housing in California According to the California Association of Realtors most recent research only 29 percent of Southern Californians can afford to buy a median-priced single-family home in the state. Today an average California home costs 440000 about twoandahalf times the average national home price 180000 according to a recent report by the California Legislative AnalystsOffice. Also Californias average monthly rent is about 1240 which is 50 percent higher than the rest of the country 840 per month. Housing affordability is always an issue in California said Robert Kleinhenz Chief Economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation LAEDC. For example our home ownership rate in California is typically about 10 percentage points lower than the nations as a whole. Thats particularly noteworthy because our median household income is actually a little bit higher here in California compared to the U.S. as a whole. At 6.3 percent Californias unemployment rate April 2015 is now lower than its 15-year average of 7.6 percent according to Kleinhenz. The unemployment rate is considerably below the long run average. It is a sign that the labor market is in much better shape he said. In April the nation added jobs at a rate 2.2 percent higher than in April 2014. California on the other hand added jobs at a rate of 2.9 percent. California has been adding jobs at a faster clip than the nation since 2012 so this is not just a recent phenomenon Kleinhenz pointed out. Were doing fine here in Southern California but for a couple of years now San Franciscos metro area and the San JoseSilicon Valley region have both led the state in terms of percentage of job gains Kleinhenz said. In April San Francisco added jobs year over year at a 4.9 percent rate and Silicon Valley at a 5.5 percent rate he noted explaining that these regions play a strong role in Californias job growth rate outpacing the nations growth rate. Southern California counties also fared well in terms of job growth last year although they didnt keep up with the Bay Area. The Inland Empire which encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties led the way with job growth at a 4 percent annual rate in 2014. In Orange County the increase was 3.4 percent. San Diego experienced a job growth rate of 3.1 percent. In L.A. County jobs increased at a rate of 2.5 percent. Every metropolitan area in this state has been adding jobs consistently for quite some time with one exception which is the El Centro MSA Metropolitan Statistical Area down in San Diego County Kleinhenz said. The Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS recently released job growth figures for the year 2014 which illustrate that the five occupation sectors with the highest number of job gains from 2013 to 2014 were in order of most gains to least food preparation and serving-related occupations with 61170 positions gained management occupations with 46360 positions construction and extraction occupations with 35480 positions personal care and service occupations with 33310 positions and business and financial operations occupations with 28070 positions. Only one of these employment sectors also represents one of the five occupation types earning the highest wages as measured by the BLS. In 2014 people with management occupations earned an average median annual wage of 109720 annually. By contrast people working in the sector with the most job gains food prep and serving made the second-to-lowest wage rate among sectors tracked by the BLS at an average annual median rate of 20050. Californians working construction-related jobs in 2014 earned an average annual median salary of 50520. Californians with jobs in personal care or service earned 22510 the third lowest salary rate among the top job growth industries. Those working in business or financial operations earned 71490. Good-paying jobs are critical to help families afford homes Bill Allen President of the LAEDC said. Fortunately we have numerous well-established industry clusters in the L.A. County region that provide well-paying jobs including entertainment aerospace biomedical education international trade and super-sectors such as manufacturing high tech and professional services he noted. Generally these are industries that can export their products and services and at LAEDC we are focused on fostering the growth of these export-oriented industries because they typically provide better wages and increase prosperity for residents. Still Allen admitted some improvements are needed when it comes to job creation generating wages that would support housing affordability and development. Are we creating enough of those well-paying jobs We have work to do on this front he said. We have finally seen employment levels in L.A. County recover from the Great Recession. Thats an important milestone and a factor in demand for housing Allen pointed out. To make sure the right kinds of jobs are being created and retained in the region over the coming years we need regional collaboration and planning he said. For that reason the LAEDC is working to develop a 2016-2020 Strategic Plan for Economic Development he said. Allen concluded That process is underway and broad participation is needed in both the drafting of the goals and in embracing the priorities with action once the plan is finished in January 2016. I 20 With homes built close to light rail workers can leave their car at home. Meeting Californias Challenges Are The Right Jobs Being Created To Support Housing Affordability And Demand 2015_OlsonCompanyInTownLiving_PortAnniversary 8815 118 PM Page 20