Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. County’s Jobless Rate Still 11.8 Percent

By Howard Fine Friday, April 20, 2012

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate in March remained stuck for the third straight month at 11.8 percent, according to state figures released Friday.

While more L.A. County residents reported finding work, more also entered the labor force looking for work, with the net result leaving the unemployment rate unchanged. The rate has declined slightly from 12.2 percent in March 2011, according to the state Employment Development Department.

L.A. County’s number remains worse than the state’s and the country’s. California’s unemployment rate edged up slightly to 11 percent in March from 10.9 percent in February, though it’s down from 11.9 percent a year ago. And the national unemployment rate edged down to 8.2 percent in March from 8.3 percent in February.

The picture is even bleaker in the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, each of which recorded jobless rates topping 13 percent.

The news was slightly better for March’s payroll jobs figures, which are derived from a separate survey of employer payrolls. The county added 12,800 payroll jobs in March as all but one of the 11 industry sectors reported gains. What’s more, the county has added 37,000 payroll jobs in the last 12 months, for a growth rate of about 1 percent.

The hospitality sector saw an increase of 5,000 jobs in March, reflecting the continued strength of tourism. Professional and business services and health care each gained about 4,000 jobs. Surprisingly, local governments added 4,700 jobs to their payrolls, despite continuing budget pain.

Only the motion picture industry lost ground, shedding 14,400 jobs from payrolls. However, state figures have shown this sector as unusually volatile in recent months and it’s unclear how much of that is due to statistical problems in tracking the industry.