L.A. County’s jobs recovery picked up steam in September as the unemployment rate fell to 10.6 percent and 37,000 jobs were added to payrolls, according to state figures released Friday.

The unemployment rate fell to the lowest point in more than three years, down from 11 percent in August and down nearly two percentage points from a year ago, according to the California Employment Development Department. The September drop was mainly due to teachers and other school employees returning to work after the summer recess.

Despite the recent improvement, L.A. County’s jobless rate is still above the statewide average of 10.2 percent and well above the national rate of 7.8 percent.

Locally, the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted unemployment rates of 11.2 percent in September, down a full percentage point from August.

The surge in teachers and other school workers returning to work – 24,000 in all – accounted for nearly two-thirds of the gain in payroll jobs. Other growing industries included trade and transportation (up 7,400 jobs) and information, including motion pictures (up 5,800).

“Employers are telling us they are feeling a little more confident,” said Janice Goff Kurihara, Los Angeles regional operations manager for Adecco, a staffing firm based in Zurich, Switzerland. “Their business is starting to increase, so now they need more employees.”

However, she said her firm is still not receiving hiring calls from the construction sector. That sector posted the largest drop in employment last month, down 3,400 jobs. Manufacturing was next, falling by 1,600 jobs.

Unlike the unemployment figures, which are derived from a household survey, the payroll jobs data come from a sampling of local employer payroll filings with the state.

L.A. County’s jobs picture also improved significantly over the past year, with more than 66,000 jobs added to payrolls for a growth rate of 1.8 percent. Nine of the county’s 11 major job sectors gained jobs over the past year, led by professional and business services (up 21,000 jobs), followed by accommodation and food services (up 15,000).

Only manufacturing posted a significant drop in payrolls, down 3,600 jobs over the past year.

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