Los Angeles County's two-track employment trend grew more pronounced last month as the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in August, the lowest rate in nearly five years, while payroll job growth remained flat, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.


The unemployment rate, which fell from 5.1 percent in July and 6.4 percent in August 2004, is now at its lowest point since Dec. 2000, when it stood at 4.5 percent. It also fell more sharply than the statewide unemployment, which, at 5.2 percent, was unchanged from July and down from 6.1 percent in August 2004.


Traditionally, L.A.'s unemployment rate has been among the highest in Southern California; it's now lower than all surrounding counties except the 3.8 percent unemployment rate in Orange County.


But non-farm payrolls remained essentially flat at 3,991,800 as drops in teacher and motion picture employment offset growth in professional and business services and construction for a net loss of 6,000 jobs from July. Over the past year, 35,000 jobs have been added to non-farm payrolls, a growth rate of 0.9 percent.


Business and professional services employed 567,800 people in L.A. County in August, up 0.6 percent from July and 1.3 percent from August 2004. The biggest gainer within this sector was administrative and support services, which at 250,800 was up 1.1 percent from July and 1.3 percent from a year ago.


Construction employed 149,900 people in August, up 1.4 percent from July and up 6.0 percent from August 2004 as work continued in L.A.'s booming housing market and several large infrastructure projects.


In a sign that this year's summer tourism season is more robust than last year, leisure and hospitality employed 386,600, up 2.4 percent from August 2004, though unchanged from July.


As has been the case for much of this year, the greatest job losses have been in government and manufacturing. Manufacturing employment, at 473,300, is down 8,000 from year-ago levels, while government employment dropped 7,800 to 550,200.


In breaking down the Los Angeles County employment figures, the two largest cities had a higher-than-average unemployment rate. The rate within the city of L.A. was 5.6 percent in August, while Long Beach posted a 5.7 percent unemployment rate. Glendale, the county's third most populous city, posted a jobless rate of 4.3 percent.

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