Southern California’s economy will flourish over the next decade as retiring baby boomers are replaced by newcomers to the work force, a Palo Alto-based think tank said Thursday. The Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy expects the region’s economy to add 1.1 million jobs, 2.2 million residents, and more than 800,000 households over the next 10 years. “That’s pretty good for a very big region,” said Stephen Levy, director of the independent, private economic research organization. “The question is whether residents and political leaders are committed to making the region a great place to live and work so that companies and families will want and be able to locate here.” “It’s like a high-powered Italian automobile engine. We just don’t know how to put the right fuel in it,” he said. The center said that the region’s economic strengths include: Foreign trade: Southern California has the nation’s busiest port complex. Its trade volume totals $300 billion, including $100 billion with China, and is growing by more than 10 percent per year. Levy expects this will be a key job generator. High-wage professional service jobs: This sector employed more than 800,000 people last year. Southern California is home to some of the nation’s leading centers, ranging from apparel to auto design and toys. Tourism and entertainment: The film, convention and tourism markets accounted for 350,000 jobs last year. New and planned entertainment complexes are projected to attract more domestic and foreign visitors over the next 10 years. Manufacturing jobs: Manufacturing industries, including the biotech sector, are expected to grow over the next decade, although the rate of expansion is unclear. Construction: A slowdown in residential construction and real-estate-related jobs is being offset by billion-dollar commercial and industrial projects, Kyser and Levy say. The first phase of the l.a.live project near Staples Center is under way, while local governments have just signed off on plans for the Grand Avenue housing and commercial development in downtown Los Angeles. Despite the optimistic outlook, the challenges facing Southern California and the state remain substantial, Levy said. “The recently approved infrastructure bonds are only a down payment on the billions of dollars in additional spending needed to make the state’s infrastructure attractive to businesses and residents,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The next 10 years will bring dramatic population changes as baby boomers approach retirement ages. “This is the decade when the aging of the baby boomers hits home,” Levy said. “The retirement of a lot of middle-class wage earners will open up pretty significant demand.” It will be a time when many middle-income wage earners retire and these jobs will have to be filled. “To remain competitive we have to educate and train the work force that will replace retiring boomers during the next 20 years,” Levy said. Jack Kyser, vice president and chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., concurred with Levy that civic and government leaders must confront quality-of-life issues such as traffic congestion, affordable housing and education.