Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell to 11% in November from a revised 12% in October amid seasonal hiring gains in retail and logistics, according to state figures released Dec. 18.
The state Employment Development Department reported that the unemployment rate, which is based on a household survey, fell one full percentage point in November, which followed a drop of three percentage points in October. The rate had declined by nearly 50% from its May peak of 21.1%.
But the reason for the drop in the unemployment rate was not encouraging: the county’s labor force recorded a decline of 94,000 to 4.97 million as more people either gave up looking for work or dropped out of the labor force for other reasons.
So, even though the number of L.A. County residents who reported they were employed also fell by 31,000 to 4.42 million, the greater magnitude of decline in the labor force translated into a drop in the unemployment rate.
Despite the decline, the county’s unemployment rate was still nearly three whole percentage points above the statewide 8.7% rate for November and nearly five percentage points above the 6.7% nationwide rate, meaning that L.A. County continues to lag the state and nation in the recovery from the spring lockdown.
And, of course, last month's rate was much higher than the November 2019 rate of 4.3%
For November, the EDD also released a breakout of unemployment data for cities and communities in L.A. County. The two largest cities in the county, Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted rates of 10.5% and 11.6%, respectively. Compton had the county’s highest unemployment rate at 16.9%; La Canada Flintridge had the lowest rate of 5%.
Turning to jobs, the gain of 29,800 payroll jobs in November to 4,257,400 was down from the 79,000-job increase registered in October.
November’s gain brought the total number of jobs recovered since the pandemic-induced lockdown in March to 341,000, but that’s still only 47.6% of the 716,000 total jobs lost in March and April, leaving a shortfall of about 375,000 jobs.
Also of note: The gain in jobs was recorded just before the latest round of business restrictions and closures in late November as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations began their latest surge into record territory.
The November job gains were led by an increase in hiring in the retail and logistics sectors in advance of the holiday season. Retail stores posted a gain of 15,000 jobs, while transportation/warehousing was up 7,700 jobs.
The EDD also released a seasonally adjusted figure for payroll jobs in November that accounted for this seasonal holiday hiring. That adjusted figure showed a gain of 7,100 jobs between October and November.
Other sectors reporting job gains in November included local government (up 4.300 jobs), leisure/hospitality (up 3,600 jobs) and health services (up 2,400).
In a reversal from recent months, the construction sector posted the largest drop in payroll jobs between October and November, shedding 3,300 jobs.
Looking at the L.A. economy’s performance over the past 12 months, the number of payroll jobs in the county fell by 386,000, or 8.3% between November 2019 and November 2020.
Every major sector of the county’s economy suffered significant job losses during the past 12 months, led by accommodation/food services, which shed 120,000 payroll jobs. That was followed by professional/business services (down 47,000 jobs), then motion picture/sound recording (down 40,600) and manufacturing (down 24,400).