Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Unemployment Rate Stays at 5.1 Percent Even as County Adds 22,000 Jobs

By Howard Fine Friday, December 16, 2016

L.A. County’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1 percent in November even as 22,000 jobs were added to employer payrolls in the county, state figures released Friday show.

The county’s unemployment rate remained slightly above its low of 4.9 percent reached in August, according to figures from the California Employment Development Department. The number of people unemployed ticked down by 2,000 to 261,000; that was offset by a very slight drop of 3,000 in the size of the workforce to 5,141,000. A year ago, the county’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent.

L.A. County’s unemployment rate was lower than the 5.3 percent statewide figure for November, though it was higher than the national rate of 4.6 percent.

On the jobs front, payroll employment continued to surge past a record 4.4 million, reaching 4,418,000 in November. The gains were broad based, led by a seasonal jump of 13,000 jobs in the retail sector.

But when adjusted for this seasonal holiday hiring surge and other factors, payroll jobs in Los Angeles County grew by a mere 2,400.

The only sector posting a decline in November was construction, which fell by 1,800 jobs, a larger than typical amount for the fall season. Two-thirds of those in specialty trade contractors that build homes.

For the 12 months ending in November, the county added 65,000 payroll jobs for a modest gain of 1.5 percent. This year-over-year growth rate is down from a peak rate of 2.2 percent a year ago, meaning the region’s job creation machine has slowed considerably this year.

The largest year-over-year gain was in healthcare/social assistance, which added 17,400 jobs, followed by accommodation/food services, up 13,400 jobs. Local government agencies added another 9,500 jobs.

Construction and manufacturing payrolls have each shed more than 4,000 over the past 12 months. Manufacturing is continuing its long-term decline, but the drop in construction is somewhat surprising and could hint at further trouble as interest rates rise.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.