Online job recruitment edged up slightly in the Los Angeles area during March, indicating the market for job seekers was continuing to strengthen.


The L.A. area registered a 110 on the Monster index, in which anything above 100 is considered a strong market for job-seekers, according to a survey of postings by Internet recruiter Monster Worldwide Inc.


The February index was 107. Los Angeles has been rising on the index since July 2005, when it was at 100.


Monster attributed the increase to gains in tourism, health care and a variety of community and protective service occupations. Within identified employment categories, 16 were up, four dropped and two were flat. L.A. had lagged behind the rest of the country since Monster launched its index last May.


However, Los Angeles has had relatively low unemployment over the past year. Although county unemployment ticked up slightly to 5.3 percent in February, it's still historically low for the county and substantially lower than a year earlier, when it was 5.7 percent, according to the state Employment Development Department.


Total civilian employment also rose 0.6 percent in February compared to January, but was offset by an increase in the labor pool as more people were looking for work, leading to the rise in the unemployment rate.


Monster's highest rated areas with the most demand in the local market were military specific jobs (127), office and administrative support jobs (119), and the mixed category of legal and arts, design, entertainment, sports and media (118).


Only one area was below 100, meaning not considered strong for job seekers. That was building, grounds and cleaning at 96. Two other areas were considerably below average: health-care practitioners and technical at 103 and life, physical and social science at 104.


The biggest increases were in health care, up eight points; military, up six; and office and administrative, up five. Losers were management, computer and technical, science and building and grounds.


The survey is consistent with a recent forecast by the Southern California Assocation of Governments, which projects Los Angeles and surrounding counties should see modest employment growth in 2006.

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