The Los Angeles County jobs picture brightened slightly in February as the county gained 24,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point to 12.4 percent, according to figures released Friday.

However, the county’s unemployment rate is still well above the national rate of 9.7 percent and the 10.5 percent rate the county posted a year ago, according to the state Employment Development Department

The statewide unemployment rate of 12.5 percent was unchanged from January.

The county had 3.75 million non-farm payroll jobs in February, up 24,300 from January. Six of the county’s 11 major industry sectors showed job gains, led by private education, professional and business services and the film industry. Retail trade and construction showed the largest declines.

However, even with the gains, the county has lost 137,000 jobs since February 2009, a drop of 3.5 percent. The fall was led by declines in manufacturing, retail trade, professional and business services, and government. Some of the decline was due to recent revisions in the payroll jobs data.

L.A. County’s 12.4 percent unemployment rate was below the 14 percent-plus rates of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, but was above the 9 percent rate in Orange County and the 11 percent for Ventura County.

L.A. County’s two largest cities – Los Angeles and Long Beach – posted unemployment rates of 13.6 percent and 13.5 percent respectively in February. The cities of Commerce and Compton each had unemployment rates exceeding 20 percent.

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