In 1999, the San Fernando Valley was home to approximately 657,000 private sector jobs, with a total annual payroll of $25.3 billion. Employment grew 3.8 percent between 1998 and 1999. During the same period, payroll grew 7 percent. The services sector, which includes 45 percent of the private sector jobs in the San Fernando Valley, saw its employment grow by 4.5 percent and its payroll increase by more than 7 percent. Wholesale trade and general manufacturing showed the smallest gains – both holding relatively constant in terms of employment and showing payroll gains no greater than inflation.
The entertainment industry continues to be a major contributor to the economy of the San Fernando Valley. In 1999, the industry accounted for 26 percent of the Valley's private sector payroll and 18 percent of its private sector employment. With both employment and payroll up about 10 percent from 1998, the entertainment industry has outpaced other major sectors.
Several other measures also suggest a robust economy. Commercial property vacancy rates remain low. The apartment market is very tight. For the third year in a row, housing prices rose. New residential construction boomed in fiscal year 2000.
Of the lagging indicators, residential notices of default, which declined steeply in 1998, have been fairly constant since that time. Residential foreclosures continue to decline. Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies declined in the last year, although Chapter 11 filings increased.
Since the early 1990s, retail sales in the five smaller Valley cities have risen, both absolutely and as a share of total retail sales in Los Angeles County. Tourism is up, reflected in low hotel vacancy rates and rising room rates.
The Valley share of Los Angeles County public assistance recipients has generally declined since mid-1997. But, during the same period, the Valley's share of unemployment insurance claims increased.
Between 1990 and 1998, the population of the San Fernando Valley is estimated to have grown by nearly 10 percent. The share of San Fernando Valley residents living in poverty increased, from 11 to 18 percent. The Valley went from having 13 to 14 percent of the County's poor residents. Estimates for 1998 suggest that forty-eight percent of San Fernando Valley residents are white, 39 percent Hispanic, 9 percent Asian, and 3 percent black.* Sixty-five percent of the students enrolled in Los Angeles Unified School District Valley schools are identified as Hispanic.
There has been a dramatic improvement in measured air quality in the San Fernando Valley over the past two decades. By industry category, the highest level of point source emissions in the Valley today is related to natural gas transmission and distribution.
In the Los Angeles portion of the Valley, a movement is underway to detach from Los Angeles and reorganize as a separate city. A successful petition drive has led to substantial state financial support for a study, currently being conducted by the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). An actual vote on the detachment requires a determination by LAFCO that the new city would be a financially viable entity and the LAFCO findings, a vote on detachment could come in 2002.
* Government sources use the words Hispanic, black, Asian, and white to refer to populations otherwise referred to as Latino, African-American, Asian-American and Caucasian.