LAEDC’s 2024 Economic Forecast Recap

On February 27, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) proudly released its 2024 Economic Forecast. This comprehensive analysis, prepared by the LAEDC’s Institute for Applied Economics, delves into the national, state, regional, and local economic indicators, offering a nuanced understanding of economic trends in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation, and of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Los Angeles County.

“Our 2024 Economic Forecast underscores the enduring strength of Los Angeles’ economy while candidly addressing the hurdles we face. We must confront these challenges head-on and with innovative strategies to ensure our region’s economic growth,” said Stephen Cheung, President and CEO of LAEDC and World Trade Center Los Angeles.

“How we decide to address our challenges and position ourselves to take advantage of emerging opportunities will shape the prosperity and quality of life for our diverse communities for years to come.”

“The resilience of Los Angeles through recent challenges is remarkable. Our forecast not only points out the obstacles but also sheds light on pathways to overcome them, highlighting the significant opportunities for growth and innovation in our region,” said Shannon Sedgwick, Senior Director of LAEDC’s Institute for Applied Economics.

The forecast highlights the strength of the Los Angeles economy, noting its robust and resilient nature, allowing it to recoup job losses incurred during the pandemic. However, the 2024 Economic Forecast acknowledges that the recovery has not been uniform for everyone. With inflation subsiding and the Federal Reserve pausing rate hikes, there is a cautious optimism for the region’s economic future. Nevertheless, challenges such as the impacts of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, widening income inequality, a high cost of doing business, and an ongoing population decline threaten the economic vitality of Los Angeles County. 

We had the pleasure of being joined by Karim Webb, Entrepreneurial Activist and Co-Founder of PCF Restaurant Management, who spoke of addressing historical inequities and promoting economic parity in Los Angeles. Mr. Webb highlighted the need for regional partnership and collective action to create a more inclusive economy that benefits all residents, particularly marginalized communities.

“As I thought about what would be most valuable to share today, I decided to begin by inviting you all to consider a possibility. A bold thing to ask you to consider,” said Mr. Webb. “What would Los Angeles be if we lived up to our moniker? What have we actualized and brought to life being the City of Angels?”

Highlighting the worsening inequities and widening wealth gap in the region, Webb proposes a bold solution: striving for parity in public spending. He argued that equitable investment can address many social issues, from education and housing affordability to public safety and healthcare access. Webb underscored the need for collaboration between philanthropy, policymakers, and business leaders to drive meaningful change.

Central to his message is the call for increased access to capital for minority-led businesses, advocating for greater investment from pension funds to empower entrepreneurs and stimulate economic growth. Webb envisions a future where all Angelenos, regardless of background, can thrive in a fair and representative economy. Ultimately, he emphasized that achieving economic vitality is not just a matter of prosperity but a fundamental aspect of freedom and choice for the entire community.

“We should not settle for anything that falls short of a fully fair and representative economy. We are all the beneficiaries of generous of generations of mothers and fathers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who suffered the indignity of overt legal bias. We’re now tired of fighting for something that should have been there at birth,” said Mr. Webb. “To honor them, our past, present and future, we must embrace our function as leaders doing the work smartly and strategically of producing an equitable economy.”

The event also featured three breakout sessions with top-of-their-field thought leaders to discuss:   

  • Building Solutions: Tackling Los Angeles’s Housing Crisis through Innovative Development
  • Navigating the Shift: Economic Strategies for Clean Energy Adoption
  • Empowering All Voices: Regional Synergy for Economic Growth in LA 

Following our breakout session, the day ended with a closing plenary with Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor for Governor Gavin Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Ms. Myers emphasizes the importance of regional collaboration: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”

She also shared successful initiatives in other parts of California, such as the Central Valley. “Part of that success was [Central Valley organizations] had built out a broader strategic plan,” said Ms. Meyers. “You could see how all the investments would work together to serve larger interests. And that was one of the secret sauces I think of their whole application process.”

She continued, “It took a while, but now they’re starting to see some of the benefits.”

Stephen Cheung and Dee Dee Myers’s hour-long conversation highlighted the importance of regional collaboration in driving economic growth and sustainability initiatives. Mr. Cheung emphasized the significance of leveraging both public and private sector resources to achieve common goals, acknowledging the challenges faced by the state regarding budget constraints while remaining optimistic about the potential for continued investment in the region, particularly in transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy.

The conversation also delved into ensuring that Los Angeles can secure more federal dollars, such as the government’s $1.2 billion allocation to California, designating the region as a hydrogen hub.

When looking internationally, Ms. Myers also emphasized the importance of fostering a welcoming environment for foreign investment and leveraging California’s reputation for innovation to attract businesses.

“California has a very powerful brand in the rest of the world. It’s a brand of an LA and San Francisco, but I think LA most of all, in terms of innovation and economic opportunity,” she said. “We need a lot of what they provide in terms of how the supply chain works. We have tremendous opportunities in terms of business and tremendous opportunities to learn.” Additionally, she emphasized that other countries want to be in business with us, adding, “[other countries] feel welcome there, which I think is hugely important and that is almost more important than anything else people can say to us.”

Thank you to all our speakers and our sponsors for helping support the Economic Forecast 2024 and supporting LAEDC’s mission. To help support a more equitable and resilient economy, please consider the following:

Be sure to join us for Select LA Investment Summit on June 20.

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