SAN FRANCISCO -- An unusual combination of national recession, defense cutbacks, problems in the real estate and construction industries, and regional business changes have caused Southern California's worst economic climate in decades, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco economist.

Carolyn Sherwood-Call, a regional economist writing in today's issue of the bank's Weekly Letter, said six countries -- Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura -- have lost 520,000 jobs, or 7% of the total when employment peaked in March 1990.

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