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Major Earthquake Could Cost LA $213B

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Southland employers need to do a better job preparing for the inevitable large-scale earthquake that will eventually hit the region, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study released Tuesday.

The estimated economic loss of a magnitude-7.8 quake striking near Los Angeles on the southern San Andreas Fault is about $213 billion, accounting for direct and indirect impacts, according to the report.

The Southland counties that would be most affected by the hypothetical earthquake — including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino — are home to 621,000 business establishments, 6.3 million employees and an annual payroll of $303.3 billion, according to data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“As Angelenos, we have all seen the damage that comes with an earthquake,” Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, said at a news conference announcing publication of the report.

“It’s impossible for us to know for sure … but it is possible for us to prepare,” he said. “We should make sure that procedures are in place to respond.”

The earthquake would affect an estimated 522,000 jobs in health care, 504,000 in retail, 480,000 in manufacturing and 409,000 in educational services, according to the study. The death toll would be in the thousands.

KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports the hypothetical scenario could potentially sideline 100 percent of workers in areas like San Bernardino County.

“We’re not doing this to scare you, we want to help encourage you to do more about it,” said Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Among other findings, the report shows that hospital and health care workers — critically important in the response to such a disaster — are concentrated in the areas projected to incur the worst damage.

The potential economic consequences to employers and workers in southern California are widespread and likely to have an effect on the state economy and, in turn, the national economy because of the far-reaching economic ties between firms and industries in the state and beyond, according to the report.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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