Orange County Economic Snapshot

➤ Orange County gained 21,500 jobs in the 12 months ending in September, representing a 1.2% increase, but below the 1.8% national average. The metro’s unemployment rate stood at 2.4% for the same period, one of its lowest levels in recent years.

➤ Professional and business services led growth with the addition of 7,500 jobs, boosted by the presence of Fortune 500 companies, along with startup, tech and media companies. Leisure and hospitality gained 6,100 jobs thanks to strong tourism activity, which remains a dynamic driver of the region’s economy. In 2018, the metro welcomed more than 50 million visitors—up 1.6% year-over-year—who spent over $13 billion at local businesses. Construction added 3,300 positions, followed by education and health services with 2,700 jobs.

➤ High-paying jobs are concentrated in Irvine, which is home to more than 900 technology companies, half of which specialize in life sciences and medical technology. The area’s reputation as a burgeoning global center of the life sciences industry—anchored by leaders such as Edwards Lifesciences and Allergan—is poised to grow stronger, thanks to UC Irvine’s advanced medical research and abundance of STEM graduates.

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