L.A. County’s unemployment rate edged back up to 4.5 percent in January from 4.4 percent in December as local employers shed holiday season workers, state figures released March 7 show.

The January unemployment rate returned to the level of last November as roughly 17,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed, bringing the total to 231,000. The labor force also grew by 20,000 to about 5,146,000.

For the first time in nearly a year, the local unemployment rate was a notch higher than the statewide average of 4.4 percent; it was also higher than the national rate of 4.1 percent.

Contributing to the rise in the unemployment rate was a substantial, but seasonal, drop in nonfarm payroll employment. According to the state Employment Development Department figures, employers in the county dropped 77,000 workers from their payrolls in January for a new total of 4.44 million.

Leading the way was a drop of 15,000 workers in the retail sector as the holiday season ended. The EDD also released payroll figures adjusting for this and other seasonal factors; those figures showed a rise of 7,200 jobs.

Among the other sectors reporting job losses: Motion picture/sound recording (down 11,500) and administrative/support services (down 10,000).

Only one sector – construction – eked out a slight gain of 400 jobs between December and January.

Between January of 2017 and this past January, the county gained 75,000 payroll jobs, an increase of 1.7 percent. Health care/social assistance gained 17,000 jobs, professional/business services rose by nearly 15,000 jobs and accommodation/food services gained 13,000 jobs. Manufacturing continued its long-term decline, shedding 7,200 jobs for a 2 percent decline over those 12 months.

The January payroll job figures reflected annual revisions by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state EDD. While in many years those revisions result in substantial numbers of jobs being discovered or removed, this year there was a very slight drop of 1,600 jobs in the county, or 0.04 percent.

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.