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Southland Tops Nation in Job Market Growth

Times Staff Writer

Southern California continued to pace the nation in employment growth in the first quarter of 1989, with the manufacturing sector leading the way, according to a study by a leading business research group.

The Conference Board, in its quarterly survey of regional economies, said three Southland areas--Los Angeles, San Bernardino-Riverside and Anaheim-Santa Ana--were national leaders in job growth thanks to aerospace, a strong recovery in high technology and a robust service sector.

San Bernardino-Riverside was identified as the fasting-growing metropolitan area in the nation during the past five years. And the prospects remain bright, said Steven R. Malin, author of the study.

California as a whole, Malin noted, has been “by far and away the manufacturing growth leader of the decade” and added 54,500 jobs in the sector in the 15 months through the first quarter of this year. A strong, broad-based electronics sector and a large labor pool for industries such as apparel were the key to the gains, Malin said.

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In service industries such as retailing, financial services and real estate, California also did well, although in those areas its advantage over other regions of the country was far less pronounced. The continued population influx has been a key element in boosting many service sectors, Malin observed, and the slight cooling of the real estate sector should now work to the area’s benefit.

Despite the generally upbeat outlook, the Southland economy is vulnerable in certain areas, Malin indicated. “If defense cutbacks accelerate, or if there is volatility in the dollar that slows trade flows, their could be vulnerabilities,” Malin said, especially among the small manufacturing firms.

But because the service sector is strong, manufacturers can serve as a buffer to absorb the shocks that might otherwise send the region into recession, Malin said.


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