L.A.'s Economy & Key Assets

A Global Hub of Creativity and Innovation
City of Los Angeles Street Sign
Only 150 years ago, Los Angeles was a sleepy pueblo surrounded by rolling ranchlands. Today, it's the third largest metropolitan economy in the world, with a population of 10 million and a GDP of over $700 billion. LA's rise to global prominence in such a short time is a testament to the can-do spirit of its residents and businesses, and to a culture of thinking big. Los Angeles has always been an incubator of new ideas, and the scale of its economy reflects the impact that LA's brand of creativity and innovation has had on the world. And it's a way of thinking that cuts across industries.

The Los Angeles economy is exceptionally diversified, with established industry clusters ranging from Aerospace, entertainment, and fashion to biomedical services, consumer products, and tourism. In each of these varied fields you'll find an approach to life and business that is distinctly LA: combining passion, innovation, and expertise in a way found nowhere else.

Facts About the LA Economy

  • LA County has a larger GDP than the countries of Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Taiwan
  • About 40% of all containerized goods entering the US pass through LA, the largest seaport in the Western Hemisphere
  • LA County is the largest manufacturing center in the US, with more manufacturing jobs than the state of Michigan
  • LA is a world leader in aerospace, clean technology, entertainment, fashion, healthcare and tourism
  • Some of the many things invented in LA include: the Space Shuttle, the hula hoop, MySpace, the global positioning system, the modern skateboard and the Mars Rover

Key Assets & Sectors of Los Angeles' Innovation Economy

Shipping Route, Logistics and Trade IndustryInternational trade is the largest industry in Los Angeles by employment. Nearly 300,000 jobs are directly sustained by the movement of goods in and out of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Port - the largest port complex in the United States and the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) - the world's sixth busiest airport. Both the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Airport are owned by the City of Los Angeles and are key components in the City's strategy to grow businesses and the economy.

Facts about Logistics and Trade in LA
  • The LA Customs District is the second largest in the nation, based on containerized cargo volume and total cargo value - approximately $350 billion annually
  • The Port of Los Angeles connects directly with rail lines to destinations east of the Rocky Mountains via the Alameda Corridor, which is the nation's busiest rail cargo expressway
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has more than 1,000 cargo flights each day and is the world's sixth busiest airport by passenger flights, linking Los Angeles to every corner of the globe

The Port of Los Angeles

aerial picture of the Port of Los Angeles

For the past decade the Port of Los Angeles has moved more containers than any other port in the Western Hemisphere. Its success is not a coincidence. The Port of Los Angeles has heavily invested to ensure that its customers can take advantage of three major business drivers: superior cargo terminals, rail and warehouse infrastructure, and services between dock and destination.

The Port's state-of-the-art facilities are moving the goods while modernizing aggressively for the decades ahead. Port professionals work with tenants and their customers to meet their needs for today and anticipate their needs for tomorrow.

The Port of Los Angeles is the best option for moving cargo in and out of the most heavily populated region in the Western U.S. and beyond. It has the nation's largest on-dock rail assets, providing the highest frequency of intermodal access to 14 major freight hubs across the United States and beyond.

The Advantage of Access to the Port of Los Angeles
Sailing frequencies and transit times; infrastructure, rail advantage and available support
Los Angeles Trade Numbers
Facts and figures on trade flowing through the Port of Los Angeles

Los Angeles World Airports

Plane at LAXThe City of Los Angeles owns and operates three airports:
» Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
» LA/Ontario International Airport
» Van Nuys Airport

LAX is the world's sixth busiest passenger airport and ranks 13th in air cargo tonnage handled. It is also the world's busiest origin and destination airport, with more passengers beginning or ending their trips in Southern California than using the airport for connecting flights. In 2008, LAX served 59.8 million passengers and handled 1.8 million tons of freight and mail. LAX handled 70 percent of passengers, 75 percent of air cargo, and 95 percent of international passengers and cargo traffic in the five-county Southern California region.

Los Angeles International Airport at Night
LAX: An Economic Driver
  • LAX has an annual economic impact of $60 billion
  • An estimated 59,000 jobs, directly attributable to LAX, are located on or near the airport
  • One in 20 jobs in Southern California is attributed to LAX operations
  • LAX has 1,000 cargo flights each day
  • LAX operates a 12,700-square-foot refrigeration unit for perishable products
Biology Testing Lab, Biotech Industry

Los Angeles is home to some of the finest research institutions/facilities and teaching hospitals in the nation, including UCLA Medical Center, USC's Keck School of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the House Ear Institute, Good Samaritan, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, California Hospital Medical Center, and the Doheny and Jules Stein Eye Institutes.

Biomedical technology is one of the nation's most important growth sectors. Approximately 38,000 people work producing pharmaceuticals, medical apparatus, medical equipment/supplies, and conducting bio/health research in LA County, with a large number of those working inside the City of Los Angeles.

Biotech entrepreneurialism begins at universities and key medical institutions such as UCLA, USC, the House Ear Institute, Cedars-Sinai and Childrens Hospital LA The Mayor's Trade Advisory Council works to connect international investment with local biomedical and technology firms. These efforts help facilitate technology transfer and the translation of innovative research performed in the City of Los Angeles into start-up firms in LA's Biomed/Tech Corridor.

Biology Testing Lab, Biotech Industry
The City of LA and the Biomed/BioTech/Health Sciences Industry
  • Supporting the growth of the large biomedical companies in the City of Los Angeles that manufacture products for distribution and are used throughout the country and the world
  • Supporting, promoting, and building upon the Biomed "anchors" that already exist in the Biomed/Tech Focus Corridor, including LAC+USC Medical Center, USC Keck School of Medicine, the CSULA campus and Grifols Biologicals
  • WorkSource Centers (WSCs) streamline the process for Biomed/Tech companies to access all the WSCs' services
  • Collaborating with other institutions such as the East LA Skills Center, East LA Occupational Center and East LA College to focus on creating a pipeline of eligible candidates for the future
  • Working closely with local universities to lobby for federal and state funding for stem cell research
  • Maintaining and nurturing a strong relationship with the Southern California Biomedical Council (SCBC) to connect Biomed/Tech companies to the Biomed/Tech Focus Corridor
  • Co-hosting such events as the SoCalBio Investor & Partnership Conference
  • Helping to connect investors to local entrepreneurs, as well as providing them with information on partnership formation and business models for commercializing technologies
Component Building, Creative Industry

The creative industries in Los Angeles are a major player in the regional economy, generating more than 640,000 jobs and over $200 billion in sales revenue. And the creative economy in Los Angeles goes far beyond our world-famous film and entertainment industries, encompassing a range of creative fields and disciplines that make LA the creative capital of the United States.

There are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in Los Angeles than any other city at any other time in the history of civilization. With more than 1,000 annual theatrical productions and more than 800 museums and art galleries, arts and culture are a major driver of the regional economy and contribute to the exceptional quality of life found here.

Los Angeles also boasts internationally-renowned design, architecture, and advertising firms, and is one of the most important fashion industry centers in the world. With a vibrant prototyping and manufacturing sector, world-class art and design colleges providing talent and resources, and a local population that embraces new ideas, LA can turn creative concepts into reality like no place on earth.The Getty Museum

The Creative Economy: Real Business

  • Creative industries are responsible for one in every eight jobs in the region
  • The Eames Chair, Mickey Mouse, the Electric Guitar, and the Mazda Miata are just a few of the iconic creative products that were born in L.A.
  • LA County is home to nearly 11,000 establishments that serve the entertainment industry
  • The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, directed by the Mayor, has created a Cultural Master Plan, a roadmap of strategies and tactics to strengthen LA's future through creativity, diversity, and synergy

The Otis Creative Economy Report

The Otis Creative Economy Report

Since its inception in 2007, Otis College of Art and Design's Annual Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region has been an invaluable tool to assess the tremendous impact and influence of the area's creative sector on the economy.

In 2013, the California Arts Council awarded Otis funds to expand the report to include analysis of the entire state of California, showing how the state's economy is effected by jobs in the arts, design, education, entertainment, nonprofits, and independent creative professions, and providing enconomic forecasts. Their commitment underscores the belief that creativity is essential to California's successful workforce investment and economic development strategies. Read the most recent report on the Otis website at Otis.edu.

Solar Panels, Green Technology

Los Angeles is committed to becoming the greenest big city in the nation and a global capital of clean technology. Through leading environmental initiatives, we are cleaning up the air and water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a green economy in LA

Los Angeles has some of the most progressive environmental policies and initiatives in the nation, resulting in more than $1 billion of investment in cleantech programs such as sustainable development, renewable energy, and clean transportation. Over the next 10 years, LA will invest $10 billion in the City's cleantech industry.

Find out more about LA's investment in a clean future.