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America’s recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and arduous, but a new report shows that Los Angeles County is leading the way in job growth and business creation.
“The New Map of Economic Growth and Recovery,” from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Innovation Group, places L.A. County at the top of the list for counties with largest number of jobs added between 2010 and 2014.
The county added 352,840 jobs during that period, for a growth rate of 9.9 percent. Neighboring Orange County was fifth on the list, having added 148,840 jobs at a rate of 11.7 percent.
L.A. County’s growth didn’t surprise economist Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research for Beacon Economics in Los Angeles.
“L.A. County is the biggest county in the nation in absolute terms, so it should outperform just about every other county,” he said. “You would expect it to be very close to the top.”
L.A. County came in well ahead of Harris County, Texas, which ranked second with 257,940 new jobs added between 2010 and 2014, at a rate of 14.7 percent, according to the report. New York County, New York came in third with 220,200 jobs added, at a rate of 11.2 percent.
Those were followed by Cook County, Illinois, which boosted its job base by 165,680, at a rate of 7.6 percent.
California’s Santa Clara, San Diego County and San Francisco counties also were included in the list of top 20 counties with the largest increases in employment.
Even more telling for California is the fact that the combined Southern California and San Francisco areas generated 978,000 new jobs from 2010 to 2014. That accounted for more than 10 percent of the nation’s new jobs.
The U.S. economy added a total of 9.1 million new jobs from 2010 to 2014, compared with 7.5 million over the first five years of the 2000s recovery and 9.4 million over the first five years of the 1990s recovery.
L.A. County also topped the list of the 20 counties that added the most new businesses from 2010 to 2014.
L.A. County added 14,540. Miami-Dade County, Fla. ranked second with 6,790, followed by Kings County, N.Y. (6,510); Harris County, Texas (5,990); and Orange County, Calif. (4,430 startups).
“We are viewed as a hotbed for entrepreneurial activity,” Kleinhenz said. “And in this day and age a lot of that activity is happening with more established firms — it’s not all small businesses. These established firms may have increased capital requirements. SpaceX is a good example. They employ at least 4,000 people and they’re doing very innovative stuff with the private commercialization of space flight.”
The report notes that the top 20 counties accounted for half of the nation’s new businesses that came online from 2010 to 2014.
Previous recoveries saw business creation spread out among a much larger number of counties. In the economic recovery of the 2000s, 64 counties accounted for half of the net increase in new businesses across the nation.
Florida and the Southwest saw the largest share of new business activity during that period, which was characterized by migration to new suburban developments in the Sun Belt.
“We’ve really seen a narrowing down in the geography,” said John Lettieri, Economic Innovation’s co-founder and senior director of policy and strategy. “There’s no easy answer, but part of it lies in the fact that during the Great Recession we saw a global crisis that affected the financial and housing markets in the U.S. That heavily impacted access to new capital for small startups. Fewer counties than ever are participating in the national recovery.”
The report also shows that middle-wage workers were hit hardest by the recession.
Fully half of the 8.9 million jobs lost from 2008 to 2010 occurred in middle-wage sectors. Another 36 percent affected low-wage sectors and 14 percent of the job losses were in high-wage industries.
The nation’s recovery has skewed that mix. Half of the 9.1 million jobs that have been recovered are in low-wage sectors, which include such jobs as restaurant workers and parking attendants.
Another 31 percent of recovered jobs have been in middle-wage sectors, and 19 percent were in high-wage industries.