On a sunny Monday afternoon near the Port of Los Angeles, a man straddling a mechanic’s red toolbox is wheeling down a street, struggling to maintain his balance as he turns a corner.

A camera crew is filming the action as part of a shoot for oil change chain Jiffy Lube, one of at least a dozen commercials shot this week across Los Angeles County. Others include spots in downtown L.A. for Yoplait Yogurt and Jeep Cherokee, as well as North Hollywood for JC Penney.

Commercial shoots are surging in L.A., fueled by several factors, including an economic recovery, ads for the Super Bowl, the summer Olympics and political campaigns, and even a tax break offered by the city.

Location shoots for commercials in the L.A. area rose 8% in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier and climbed to the highest level on record last year -- generating 7,079 production days, according to FilmL.A. Inc, which handles film permits for the city and county of Los Angeles.

While they don’t get as much attention as movies and television shows, commercials have become an increasingly important contributor to L.A.’s entertainment economy. In fact, since 2009, commercials have accounted for more location filming than feature films, which have been harder hit by runaway production.

Although movies and TV shows employ larger crews, commercials still pack an economic punch: filming a 30-second spot for broadcast TV can employ 40 crew members and carry a budget of $100,000 to $400,000.

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-- Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times