Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate once again dipped below 5% in September to 4.8%, reaching the lowest point since the pandemic began. The drop in unemployment came amidst a substantial net job gain of 17,000 in September from August.
But the unemployment rate drop from 5.2% in August was mostly due to a substantial shrinking of the labor force by roughly 46,000 people to almost exactly 5 million. People typically leave the labor force to return to school, care for relatives or because they have given up on landing a job.
Nonetheless, the county’s 4.8% unemployment rate was well below the 7.6% rate for September of last year and was closing in on the modern record low of 4.3% reached in the months prior to the pandemic. When the economy was shut down in response to the pandemic in the spring of 2020, unemployment in the county reached a peak of 21%.
Yet even with this tremendous progress, L.A. County’s unemployment rate was still above the statewide average for September of 3.9% and the national average of 3.5%.
Looking at unemployment on the city level, the two largest cities in Los Angeles County – Los Angeles and Long Beach – each reported a September unemployment rate of 4.6%, according to city breakout data supplied by the EDD. Among cities with labor forces exceeding 10,000, Lancaster posted the highest unemployment rate at 6.7%, while Lomita had the lowest rate at 2%.
Turning to the payroll jobs picture, L.A. County gained a net 17,000 jobs in September to reach 4.55 million. The education sector led the way as all students returned to class by the end of the month. Combining private education with public sector university and K-12 education, the job gain in September was 15,300.
The EDD also released a countywide payroll job figure that adjusts for this seasonal return to the classroom; that adjusted figure resulted in a drop of 6,700 jobs in September from August.
Three other sectors also showed substantial payroll job gains in September: professional/business services (up 6,100 jobs), personal and miscellaneous services (up 2,500 jobs) and accommodation/food services (up 1,800).
Three sectors posted net losses in jobs in September: manufacturing and retail trade (both down 2,100 jobs) and finance/insurance (down 900 jobs).
For the 12 months ending in September, total nonfarm employment in the county jumped by 186,000, or 4.3%, to 4.55 million. Most major economic sectors posted net gains in jobs over that span, led by a 32,000 jump in professional/business positions and a 31,000 gain in healthcare/social assistance jobs. The accommodation/food services sector posted a gain of 25,500 jobs.
Only the local government K-12 education sector lost a significant number of jobs, shedding a net 4,200 over the 12 months ending in September.