The 3 million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Otay Mesa is an example of the e-commerce growth driving the Southern California economy. Photo by Chris Jennewein

If Southern California was a separate country, its economy would be the 13th largest in the world at $1.6 trillion in 2021 — bigger than Brazil and just a few hundred million dollars smaller than Australia.

That was a finding released Wednesday by the respected UCLA Anderson Forecast as part of its quarterly report on California and the nation as a whole.

Economist William Yu estimated that Los Angeles county accounts for $815 billion, followed by Orange County at $272 billion, San Diego County at $256 billion, the Inland Empire — Riverside and San Bernardino counties — at $211 billion and Ventura County at $56 billion.

On a per-capita basis, Orange County was the leader at $85,900, followed by $82,000 for Los Angeles County, $76,900 for San Diego County, $66,200 for Ventura County and $45,100 for the the Inland Empire. By comparison, the U.S. average is $68,600.

The report found that Southern California’s economy has been growing faster than the nation’s over the past two decades, with the fastest growth in the Inland Empire and slowest in Orange County.

Yu noted that the Inland Empire leads the region in terms of population and job growth because of lower housing costs and the rise of the warehousing industry in the era of e-commerce.

He expects the Southern California economy to grow by 4.2% in 2022 and 2.2% in 2023.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.