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Forecast: O.C. to add jobs at a moderate pace

Housing is also recording measured improvement, says the generally positive report from Cal State Fullerton.

October 25, 2013|By Emily Foxhall

Hiring in Orange County was more robust than anticipated last year, and gains are expected to continue, according to the 2014 economic forecast released by Cal State Fullerton.

An increase of 28,200 jobs is projected for 2013, a 2% increase over 1.4 million jobs in 2012, according to the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics forecast, presented Thursday at the Hyatt Hotel in Irvine.

Next year looks stronger. An increase of 35,900 jobs is projected in 2014, a 2.5% increase over 1.43 million jobs forecast in 2013.

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"While not a booming expansion, the current recovery is surely resilient," the report reads.

Jobs added in the past 12 months, 32,500, were on par with jobs added in the prior 12-month period.

In January 2012, the county's unemployment rate was 8.1%, but it fell to 6.8% in December 2012. In all, local employment grew by 34,400 jobs that year.

The county's biggest employment sectors — professional and business services, retail, transportation and trade — showed slow hiring.

Exceptions were construction, which has turned a corner, economists said, and leisure and hospitality, which is now about 12% higher than its previous peak.

Economists noted that the growth in food services and hospitality demonstrates the county's importance as a destination for leisure and entertainment.

"The rebound is undoubtedly slower than some of the past recoveries, such as the ones in the early 1990s and the dot-com recovery of 2001-02, but this is rather the consequence of the deep national recession caused by the financial collapse of 2008," the report said. "Typically, recoveries following financial disasters are slower, some lasting as long as 10 to 12 years."

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Home permits are up

Meanwhile, new-home building permits rose to 6,900 in Orange County in 2012, up from 2,200 in 2009.

Home prices in the county and Southern California "rose at an exceptionally fast clip," according to the report.

The average median single-family home price is still 15% below peak prices of 2006, hovering around $664,580 as of August. However, housing prices have seen double-digit monthly gains since August 2012.

The median home price in Newport Beach was $1.563 million Friday, according to Zillow. Costa Mesa's median was $616,000, and Irvine's $743,000.

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