L.A. County tourism jobs grew nearly 6% in 2014, data show

Out of the 96,600 net jobs added in Los Angeles County last year, 25,300 were in leisure and hospitality

Los Angeles County's tourism industry grew by nearly 6% last year, the highest growth rate of any major job sector in the region, according to new employment data.

Out of the 96,600 net jobs added in Los Angeles County last year, 25,300 were in the leisure and hospitality industries, according to the California Employment Development Department.

The numbers mark the third year in a row that the tourism industry has grown by at least 5%, according to the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

By comparison, the education and health services industry -- including doctors, dentists and college professors -- grew by 3.9% last year compared to 2013, according to the Employment Development Department. Construction jobs grew by 3.5%, while trade and transportation employment rose by 2.4%, according to the state agency.

Some economists have pointed out that a majority of tourism jobs are low-paying gigs that involve serving and preparing food and drinks.

Employees in the tourism and hospitality industries earned an average of $23,181 in 2013, less than half of the average county salary of $54,958, according to a study released in February by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Ernest Wooden Jr., president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, celebrated the latest job-growth numbers, saying the tourism industry "was one of the first to recover after the recession and still hasn't slowed down."

"Instead, it continues to experience unrivaled growth and is a shining star of the local economy, due in large part to the strong support of our thriving tourism industry," he said.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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