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Monday, Jun 27, 2022

L.A. County Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.5% in April as Employers Add Another 13,000 Payroll Jobs

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5% in April from a revised 5.7% in March and employers in the county added 13,000 jobs to their payrolls as the Covid pandemic continued to loosen its grip on the county, according to state figures released May 20.

The unemployment rate drop came despite the county’s labor force increasing by 30,000 to 5.05 million, according to figures released by the state Employment Development Department. One reason the labor force typically grows is more people enter the market seeking employment.

April’s 5.5% unemployment rate was the lowest since the pandemic first hit in March 2020 and was a significant improvement over the 10.4% rate in April of last year. The rate has fallen by more than two-thirds since the maximum pandemic-related shutdown of the economy in May 2020, when it stood at 19.2%.

Yet L.A. County’s unemployment rate continued to lag downward progress statewide, where the rate stood at 4.8% in April. And it was substantially higher than the national unemployment rate of 3.6%.

The EDD also released a breakdown of unemployment rates for cities within the county; those rates differ from the countywide average because they are not adjusted for seasonal factors like holiday hiring. The two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted seasonally unadjusted rates of 4.9% and 4.8% respectively.

Among cities with at least 10,000 people in the labor force, Lancaster had the highest unemployment rate at 7.3%, while Lomita had the lowest at 2.2%.

Meanwhile, employers in L.A. County reported a net 13,300 more jobs on their payrolls in April than in March, a virtually identical increase to the one that took place between February and March.

With this job gain, the county has now gained back roughly 660,000 – or 84% – of the 785,000 payroll jobs lost during the first pandemic lockdown in the spring of 2020. But it’s still leaves the county about 125,000 payroll jobs short of the pre-pandemic peak of 4.62 million reached in February 2020.

The EDD also released a seasonally adjusted set of payroll jobs figures showing a gain of about 9,100 jobs in April.

The payroll job gains in April were spread across most of the county’s major industry sectors, led by a net gain of 6,600 jobs in the food services and drinking places subsector as restaurants and bars continued to rebound from the pandemic. That was followed by arts/entertainment/recreation, which increased by 3,200 jobs and motion picture/sound recording, up 2,700 jobs.

A few sectors reported payroll job declines in April, including construction (down 2,900 jobs) and health care/social assistance (down 2,700 jobs).

Since April of last year, the county added a net 255,000 jobs, for a gain of 6%. Every significant sector of the Los Angles economy shared in that gain, led by a net increase of 64,000 jobs in accommodation/food services. Motion picture/sound recording was next with a net gain of about 25,000 jobs. Private educational services, healthcare/social assistance services, and professional/scientific/technical services each reported a net gain of about 17,000 jobs.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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