Long Beach Unemployment Rate Hits a Six Year Low

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The unemployment rate in Long Beach has hit a six year low, dropping to 8.4% as of April 2014. During the Great Recession, the unemployment rate reached a peak of 14.6% in July 2010, and the unemployment rate has dropped steadily since that time. Over the past year, the City’s rate has dropped from 10.2% to 8.4%, including a large drop from 9.6% in March 2014 to 8.4% in April. From July 2010 to April 2014, total employment in the City has grown by 15,600 workers, from 203,600 to 219,200.

“Everywhere you look, economic progress is happening in Long Beach, so it’s no surprise the unemployment rate is dropping so quickly,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “Our focus on creating unique partnerships between our nine Business Improvement Districts, our Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Mayor’s Office, the Office of Business & Property Development, and City departments facilitates not only major initiatives, but actively engages with small and mid-size businesses to help them invest and grow.” 

“The business districts work hard to retain and attract new businesses through the efforts of Clean & Safe Programs, façade improvements, and events designed to connect local communities to our business corridors, creating both jobs and greater investment by property owners and business owners of all sizes.” said Blair Cohn, President of the Council of Business Associations (COBA). “COBA believes the more we do to create a healthy business environment, the healthier the city becomes, driving our local economic machine.”

Long Beach has adopted a holistic approach to economic development. Central to this approach is the belief that every department and employee has a role in promoting economic development in the City, whether it is facilitating permits and inspections, enhancing customer service, solving problems, or making our neighborhoods and business corridors look better. The City’s economic development efforts are coordinated, yet are rooted in nearly every department of the City, and include partners such as the Business Improvement Districts and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“We have embedded the objectives of economic development within all City staff, underscoring a business-friendly approach to decision making. This less traditional model is performing well,” said Mike Conway, Director of Business and Property Development. “From offering one of the lowest business tax structures to our new and improved streamlined permitting, Long Beach has a tremendous amount to offer the business community, and the results speak for themselves.”

Over the past year, Long Beach has experienced significant economic activity:

  • Douglas Park is exceeding expectations with new businesses such as Turbo Air, Shimadzu Precision Instruments, 90,000 square feet of medical office park, and a new Marriott hotel. An additional 500,000 square feet of manufacturing and commercial use has been entitled and is currently in the permitting process.
  • On Pine Avenue, the Fortune 500 company Molina Healthcare has expanded and created a new headquarters.
  • The Deukmejian Courthouse is in full operation, serving both criminal and civil cases.
  • MemorialCare has opened a new medical center in Los Altos, repurposing a former bookstore and creating medical office space and urgent care facilities.
  • Restoration Hardware has opened the first outlet at the Pike.
  • Samsung C&T recently located at the Catalina Landing Building.
  • At the Traffic Circle, the City helped facilitate moving Hooman Toyota to the former Coast Cadillac site, and new businesses opened at the former Hooman site.

Major construction projects are also underway in the City of Long Beach, creating thousands of jobs.

The $1.2 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge will create an estimated 4,000 jobs a year over the next five years. The $1.3 billion Middle Harbor project will create an estimated 1,000 jobs over nine years, and 14,000 permanent jobs once in operation. Downtown development continues as well. The American Hotel restoration is nearly complete. The adaptive reuse of the old 12-story Edison building is underway, which will bring 156 market rate rental units online later this year. The 17-story $70 million Current development broke ground in March 2014. Additionally, the Long Beach City Council approved $39 million in the FY 2014 Budget for additional improvements to public infrastructure and technology, and much of that work is currently underway.

The City’s restaurant industry is also growing.

New restaurants include P3 Artisan Pasta and Social List in Retro Row; Bogart & Co. in the Convention Center; Boathouse on the Bay; Bo-Beau Kitchen & Roof Tap, Hamburger Mary’s relocation to Pine Avenue; Chianina Steakhouse in Naples; Pier 76 on Pine; James Republic in East Village; and the Federal Bar.

In addition, there are a number of positive developments that will fuel future employment. Mercedes Benz has signed a long-term lease for 1.1 million square feet of space at Boeing’s former 717 facility, reactivating a site that has been dormant since the line closed in May 2006. On a related note, Boeing has recently announced that it will bring more than 1,000 engineering jobs to the area, in addition to the 300 they announced last year, helping to offset future job losses from the closure of the C-17 line in 2015. Finally, the convention and tourism industry is showing strong gains and hotel occupancy rates have been rising.

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