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Economic report says Burbank faring well

July 09, 2003

Jackson Bell

The war in Iraq, an epidemic scare and the state budget crisis had

little effect on the local economy during the first quarter of 2003,

according to the city's economic profile.

The report, a quarterly analysis of Burbank's economic health

prepared by the Community Development Department, examined a variety

of indicators, including unemployment rates, travel, real estate

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sales, and parking, occupancy and sales tax revenues.

"Based on the figures, Burbank does seem to be faring pretty well

compared to other cities," said Ross Young, an administrative

assistant who prepared the report.

Burbank's unemployment rate has steadily declined since reaching

4.6% in January, and remains lower than that of Glendale (6%) and the

nation (6%), the report states.

Airline travel at the Burbank- Glendale-Pasadena Airport remained

consistent during the first three months of 2003, despite the

mid-March start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. More passengers traveled

in March than in January or February, according to the report.

Transient-parking tax revenue, which soared during 2002, waned

between January and March because increased competition reduced

customer costs, officials said.

"It wasn't the greatest first quarter of the year," said Jack

Kyser, chief economist for the L.A. County Economic Development Corp.

"But Burbank is doing better than most other communities because of

diversity and savvy business decisions [made by city officials]."

Although the bulk of the city's economic vitality comes from the

entertainment industry, Community Development Director Sue Georgino

said strong retail sales at Burbank Empire Center has contributed

heavily to the city's sales-tax base.

"Value-oriented retail does well in declining economies," Georgino

said.

Although sales tax figures jumped 10.5% in the fourth quarter of

2002, no figures for the first quarter of 2003 were included in the

report.

That combination, Kyser said, kept Burbank's unemployment rate

relatively low.

According to the report, the real estate market "continues to be

very strong," in part because 84 single-family homes were sold in

March. Commercial vacancy rates for the first quarter of this year

were not included in the report.

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