LMU and Beacon Economics’ ‘Forecast LA’ Sees Continued Economic Growth for 2016

The coming year should be one of continued economic growth for the Los Angeles region, for California, and for the nation, according to the economists and Los Angeles Area residents surveyed for this year’s Forecast LA report.

But across the board, fewer Angelenos than last year predict an improvement in the economic conditions that affect their daily lives. Those surveyed blame higher housing costs in Los Angeles and a belief that the disparity between rich and poor will continue to widen.

The forecast is a partnership between the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University and Beacon Economics, LLC. Researchers at both organizations found evidence of growth at the Los Angeles, California, and national level.

“Residents of Los Angeles are not as upbeat in their predictions as last year,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the center and professor of political science and Chicana/o studies at LMU. “But a majority of them believe that the economy will do better next year, that their neighborhoods are good places to live, and that the region is moving in the right direction.”

Among the report’s major findings:

  • Nationally, the economy is growing slowly but steadily. Beacon Economics forecasts U.S. GDP growth in the 2.5 percent range for 2016 and a decrease in the unemployment rate to just under 5 percent.
  • Across California last year, for the fourth year in a row, jobs were added at a faster pace than in the nation. The year ahead promises to be a continuation of that expansion with 2016 job growth in the state forecast at just over 2 percent.
  • The outlook for the Los Angeles County economy remains positive, with local employment projected to grow by 1.7% through the end of 2016. But unemployment is also forecast to increase slightly, to 6 percent. 35 percent of Angelenos expect unemployment to rise.
  • Housing remains a challenging subject. Only 16 percent of survey respondents this year say homes are affordable, and they overwhelmingly expect further increases in the cost of buying a house. Beacon Economics forecasts single-family home prices to rise five to ten percent this year. Rents will increase as well, due to the shortage in both single-family and multi-family development.

“There are plenty of reasons why the United States’ economy will not grow as rapidly as everyone would like over the next couple of years,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics and one of the forecast’s lead authors. “But there is little reason to believe the nation’s economy will stop growing.”

The opinion poll is based on the results of a telephone survey administered in January and February to 2,400 Los Angeles County residents. Additionally, researchers from the center and LMU graduate students surveyed superintendents from 52 of the county’s 80 school districts to see how these leaders’ opinions line up with those of residents.

The participating superintendents hold sunnier views than residents about the state of education in the Los Angeles region. This mirrors the rosier outlooks of local mayors and city managers surveyed in the 2015 and 2014 Forecast LA reports: across the board, L.A.’s leaders expect great things for their communities.

The full report was released at a morning event at LMU on April 20, when researchers from Beacon Economics and the Center for the Study of Los Angeles discussed their findings.