In a sign that the recession still has Los Angeles in its grip, the county’s unemployment rate shot up to a modern record of 11.9 percent in July from a revised 11.2 percent in June thanks to steep cuts in public education payrolls.

What’s more, the county lost a whopping 172,000 payroll jobs over the last year, a drop of 4.3 percent, led by huge cuts in manufacturing and retail employment, trade-related activity and professional and business services.

The jump in unemployment followed a few months of leveling off and was largely due to larger-than-usual seasonal cuts in public education. Budget-strapped school districts began their new fiscal year facing steep cuts in funding from the state and responded by slashing 24,000 jobs from their payrolls and eliminating summer school programs.

A year ago, the county’s unemployment rate stood at 7.7 percent; since then the ranks of those residents reporting they were out of work have swelled by nearly 210,000. The county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, were particularly hard hit in July as each reported an unemployment rate of 13.7 percent.

Statewide, the unemployment rate also jumped to 11.9 percent from a revised 11.2 percent in June. The national unemployment rate in July was 9.4 percent, down slightly from 9.5 percent in June; that drop prompted many economists to declare the national recession was bottoming out.

But L.A. County continued to get walloped in July as the employer payroll figure sank to 3,872,600 jobs. Every education sector took big job losses; there were smaller cuts among health care and social assistance organizations and in the motion picture industry.

In the closely-watched year-over-year payroll figures, manufacturing took the biggest hit, losing 36,000 jobs. Professional and business services came next, with a decline of 32,000 jobs, followed by retail establishments, which saw 19,000 jobs disappear. Every other sector reported losses, except for private education and health services, which each gained about 5,000 jobs over the past year.

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