When it comes to the regional economies of Southern California, first in, first out applies to Orange County, as its economy began to recover in September 2010, according to a report released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Orange County had the lowest unemployment rate in Southern California at 7.8% in December. Los Angeles fared much worse posting 12.2% as of year-end 2011.

Home to many now-defunct subprime mortgage companies, Orange County’s economy began to slide in 2006 as the housing market began to slow. The upside now seems that the county is recovering more quickly and actually began to post positive year-over-year job growth in September 2010, according to the report. It said Orange County’s economy is expected to continue to expand in 2012.

In Los Angeles County, the unemployment rate is expected to edge down over the next two years, but at a snail’s pace.

Local government finance will remain a big concern as the state’s chronic budget problems have hurt school district, city and county budgets. More layoffs and service cuts are expected in 2012, but jobs should turn slightly positive in 2013, according to the report.

The forecast was brighter for the counties to the east, Riverside and San Bernardino, known as the Inland Empire. But they suffered even more during the recession, experiencing a surge in foreclosures that caused plummeting home values and joblessness. The second half of 2011 produced higher than expected job gains, the report said.

The Inland Empire economy will not recover fully until stronger gains are made in the area’s housing market, however, which is not expected for a few years.

LAEDC’s crystal ball forecast good news for the San Diego region, which has the potential of being harmed by expected cuts to military spending.

The military supports 385,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region and contributes an estimated $35.7 million to the local economy.

San Diego, which experienced 9.9% unemployment at year-end 2011, is expected to grow slowly in 2012, but then pick up steam as the year progresses, the report said.

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