Los Angeles Business Journal

County Jobless Rate Rises to 9.7 Percent

By Howard Fine Thursday, July 18, 2013

L.A. County’s jobs recovery stalled in June as the unemployment rate edged up to 9.7 percent and payroll employment levels remained unchanged, according to state figures released Thursday afternoon.

The state Employment Development Department reported that the county’s unemployment rate rose from 9.6 percent in May as nearly 30,000 more people entered the labor force looking for work. Many of those people had just graduated from college or were laid off from their teaching jobs with the ending of the school year.

Despite the monthly rise in unemployment, the rate was well below the 11.1 percent level one year ago.

Still, county’s unemployment rate remains much higher than the 8.5 percent statewide rate and the 7.6 percent national rate. And in the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, the unemployment rate is still above 11 percent.

Meanwhile, the county saw virtually no change in payroll employment, gaining a mere 200 jobs to remain at around 3.92 million jobs. Payroll jobs data are derived from a survey of employers, while the unemployment data come from a household survey.

Job gains in leisure/hospitality, construction and trade/transportation/utilities were offset by losses in private education, entertainment and health services. Leisure/hospitality gained 7,000 jobs as the summer tourism season kicked off, while construction has continued its brisk recovery after years of decimation.

One surprise was a gain of about 1,100 jobs in the county’s manufacturing sector, which had been shedding jobs consistently.

One local job placement executive said she saw a dramatic pickup in openings in manufacturing.

“All of a sudden, our manufacturing clients had demand spikes and needed to fill positions very quickly,” said Mara Klug, Los Angeles regional vice president for staffing company Adecco USA, a subsidiary of Adecco Group in Glattbrugg, Switzerland. “We saw this especially among food manufacturers.”

Private education accounted for the bulk of the job losses, shedding about 8,000 jobs. Public school employment remained flat as those schools wrap up their academic year later than private schools; presumably public school payrolls will decline sharply this month.

The county’s rate of payroll job growth has been slowing in recent months. Between June 2012 and June 2013, the county added about 40,000 jobs for a growth rate of 1 percent; earlier this year, the year-over-year job growth was about 2 percent.

Over the past 12 months, the leisure/hospitality sector gained the most, adding 18,000 jobs, followed by education/health services and construction. Government payrolls shrank the most, shedding 9,000 jobs, followed by manufacturing and entertainment.