The Anatomy of Orange County’s Labor Market

When the recession hit Orange County in 2008, it hit hard. The county’s two largest industries—the mortgage business and construction—both took a nose dive. We saw halted projects, loss of jobs, and lower wages. But not to fear; here comes the sun.

Though it took the better part of a decade to recover, Orange County’s economic boom is becoming tangible with new office spaces constructed and a surge of jobs back on the market. The first half of 2015 saw a 3.3% rate of growth in jobs—only Silicon Valley and the Inland Empire can rival that figure.

All signs point to a revitalized economy—office spaces are in high demand and occupancy continues to climb, recreational parks (like Disney) are seeing record breaking attendance numbers, and John Wayne Airport has transformed from a sleepy regional airport to a large hub where traffic has increased over the last couple of years.

Many industries are on their way to restoring themselves to their previous capacity, with other industries new to Orange County enjoying the economic growth. Construction, plumbing, and electrical companies are adding jobs and helping revive stopped projects like the Pacifica San Juan housing development in San Juan Capistrano. Meanwhile, IT and tech companies’ presence in Orange County has increased dramatically. Tech startups and millennial driven app labs are popping up around the county. The healthcare industry has also added a significant number of jobs as the age of the overall population is increasing, and with that the demand for medical care professionals.

Salary and wage increases remain steady and may outpace inflation if projections for the rest of 2015 and 2016 come to fruition. In the next three years, the anticipated median household income should be in excess of $90,000 annually.

Source: LA Times and the OC Register