Business in Los Angeles

We explore LA and glance over the most prominent sectors contributing to the city’s economic growth

Written by: Marcus Kääpä


The City of Angels, The City of Flowers and Sunshine, La-La Land - Los Angeles (LA) is reputed for many things.

On top of its several names, muscle beach, and the unmissable Hollywood sign set amid the city’s green hills, LA’s business sector is famous for its diversity and strength of industry. 

Set on the Californian coast, LA is the largest city in the state and home to around four million people, making it the second largest in the whole of the US after New York City (NYC), as well as the third largest in the North American region, with Mexico City placed in first. Not only is the city known for its cultural and ethnic diversity, but also its pleasant subtropical climate and huge metropolitan center. 

Looking to the city’s industry, LA has a robust economy and hosts a diverse range of businesses crossing a multitude of sectors. In 2018, the city was ranked as the fourth richest on the globe, even ahead of NYC, and boasted a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of approximately one trillion dollars; the third largest city by gross domestic product (GDP) in the world after NYC and Tokyo (Japan).

HOLLYWOOD AND MEDIA
As a city associated with fame and superstars, it is fitting to start with this internationally known region of LA. Hollywood is associated with the founding of some of the most famous media studios on the globe, such as Disney, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. 

Broadly speaking, the US film and television industry is a gigantic field supporting the country’s creative economy, encompassing around 2.5 million people across a variety of roles in the sector. Not only does the film and television industry generate billions from direct media production each year, but also boosts revenue in alternative areas such as increasing local tourism in filming locations.

According to the Motion Picture Association, the industry pays out approximately $188 billion in wages to the total workforce therein and is made up of over 90,000 businesses. The industry’s media reaches an international audience and accounts for over $17 billion in trade and exports annually, with in excess of 70 percent of global box office sales stemming from global markets.

PORTS AND SHIPPING
The Port of Los Angeles (also known as ‘America’s Port’) is the busiest container port in the North American region and covers a substantial 7,500 acres of land and water, encompassing an extensive 43 miles of waterfront. 

The port itself employs approximately 529,000 people in the US and over three times that number internationally, with its import cargo representing around 20 percent of all cargo entering the US each year. Made up of 25 cargo terminals, eight container terminals, over 80 container cranes, and 113 miles of on-dock rail, the Port of Los Angeles is home to imports spanning automobile parts, furniture, clothing, electronics, and much more. 

It’s 2019 top trading partners included China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, and Taiwan, with a container volume of 9.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU); over a five percent increase from 2016’s record-breaking 8.8 million TEU.

The Port of Los Angeles is one of the busiest in the world and stands as a leading gateway for global trade. As a major economic contributor to the US, the port is a key driver of job generation, commerce and tourism in California.

TECHNOLOGY
LA is home to the third largest number of tech workers on the West Coast of the US. 

There are almost 140,000 people working in the technical sphere in the city, ranging from software development to programming, and tech support. In contrast to the size of the industry, LA’s technology sector accounts for just three percent of all jobs in the city. However, it remains a very high-salaried sector with the average tech worker earning over $100,000 annually, which is substantially higher than the city-wide average household income of $69,000. 

Some of the largest names in the international technology industry, such as Google, Apple, and Netflix, are expanding in LA, and continue to grow, especially with well-known tech hub Silicon Valley (San Francisco) north of the state. LA has become a major technological center and home to corporate companies as well as many growing tech start-ups. Between 2016 and 2017, job availability in LA’s technology sector increased by almost 15 percent. 

LA is also home to one of the most valuable areas of the industry in the world – the merging of technology and entertainment. From animation to special effects across the spectrum of media, encompassing software and tech equipment, LA is the center of this integration.

THE CITY 
LA is the base of a thriving multitude of other sectors, from banking, education and fashion to raw materials, food and beverage, and the service industry. 

A continually growing hub where the term “work hard, play hard” comes to mind, the City of Angels stands as the West Coast’s center of growth, development, and business in the US.