By SHELLY GARCIA Staff Reporter More than 40,000 companies are operating in the San Fernando Valley, with a combined annual payroll of $19 billion. Retail trade and services account for nearly two-thirds of all employment in the Valley. Valley home sales doubled between 1992 and 1998, although they decreased in the first half of 1998 from the first half of 1997. The industrial and residential building sectors have accounted for the greatest increases in the Valley’s construction industry. Those are some of the findings of the first report released by the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center, which was created by Cal State Northridge in 1996 to study local social and economic trends. The report has four primary sections dealing with the economy: One section combines employment data with real estate and construction activity, another looks at industry trends, a third contains demographic data including school enrollments and crime statistics, and the fourth focuses on the Valley’s government sector. Among its findings: the value of new residential buildings for which permits were issued in the first quarter of 1998 shot up to about $125 million from less than $50 million for the same period in 1997. New industrial building-permit values increased to just under $20 million for the first quarter of 1998, up from less than $5 million for the first quarter of 1997, according to the report. New retail building-permit values, at about $12 million in the first quarter of the year, were three times the $4 million level in the year-earlier period. New office building permits in the Valley were valued at $10 million in the first quarter of 1998, essentially the same as in the year-earlier period, but that level is still dramatically lower than the peak years in the 1980s when office building permits exceeded $110 million for a single quarter, according to the report. Although crime in the Valley has decreased, as it has throughout Los Angeles, the report found that the Valley’s share of total crime increased. On the up side, however, the entertainment industry remains a major boon. Vendor payments to the Valley’s entertainment industry climbed to $3.5 billion in 1996 from $2.8 billion in 1992 and industry payroll paid within the Valley grew to $2.9 billion from $2.2 billion for the same period, the report states. The center’s report was produced with financing from the Arco Foundation, Arthur Andersen LLP, the Los Angeles Times Valley Edition and the Voit Cos., as well as private sponsors. It was presented at a workshop on Sept. 9.