Los Angeles County's job market continued to show strength in July as the unemployment rate dropped to a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent from 4.6 percent in June and 5 percent a year ago. The leisure-hospitality and health sectors lead in adding jobs to the county's economy.

California's unemployment rate also fell to a seasonally 4.8 percent, the same as the U.S. jobless figure, according to data released Friday by the state's Employment Development Department. The state's rate was down from 4.9 percent in June and 5.3 percent in July 2005.

In a separate survey of employers, L.A. County posted a 1.2 percent gain of 41,200 payroll jobs compared to a year ago in July, the 28th consecutive month of year-over-year increases in non-farm employment. The educational and health service sectors reported the largest increases, adding a combined 12,100 jobs, most of that in health care and social assistance (8,800 jobs). Accommodation and food services also continued to show steady growth, adding 6,300 jobs.

The county's total of 4,029,800 payroll jobs was down 41,200 from June's figure. Portions of the county's entertainment industry showed some month or month contraction, with the motion pictures and sound recording sector off 4,800 jobs or 3.6 percent, though year over year the sector showed 1 percent growth.

Shifts in other sectors were seasonally related, with local government and educational service sectors down a total 31,200 jobs due to the end of the school year. Conversely, leisure and hospitality gained 1,700 jobs as those industries geared up for the summer season.

The county's jobless rate remains in the middle of the pack in Southern California: higher than Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties, lower than Riverside County, but the same as San Bernardino County.

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