L.A. County’s unemployment rate fell to 12.1 percent in April – the lowest since December 2009 – as more residents reported finding work.

The county also saw a modest increase of 13,000 payroll jobs, led by small gains in the health care and leisure/hospitality sectors, according to figures released Friday from the state Employment Development Department.

The county’s unemployment rate in April was down a bit from a revised 12.3 percent in March and 12.4 percent in April 2010. The figures, drawn from a household survey, showed 60,000 more residents reported they were working in April compared to March.

California’s unemployment rate also dipped to 11.9 percent in April from 12.0 percent in March and 12.4 percent a year earlier. The national unemployment rate was 9 percent in April.

The unemployment rates for the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, fell to 13 percent and 12.9 percent respectively. Both have fallen a full percentage point since January.

Meanwhile, the county reported 3.8 million non-farm payroll jobs in April, a modest increase of 13,100, or 0.3 percent, from March. These figures are drawn from a different survey of employer payrolls.

Small gains in leisure/ hospitality jobs, health care and manufacturing led the increase. Those were partially offset by slight drops in finance-related jobs and in local government payrolls.

The year-over-year payroll jobs figures showed an increase of 23,500, or 0.6 percent, led by robust growth of 20,000 film and television jobs. The entertainment sector has consistently been among the top job generators in the county over the past 18 months.

Other year-over-year job gainers were health care and accommodation/food services. Local governments were the biggest loser over the past year, shedding nearly 17,000 jobs.

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