L.A. County’s unemployment rate fell to 9.2 percent in December, its lowest point in more than five years, according to state figures released Friday.

But the county’s job creation machine stalled last month as employers only added 1,400 net jobs to their payrolls, according to the figures from the state Employment Development Department. The nearly 4 million payroll jobs in the county is virtually unchanged from November.

The unemployment rate was down from 9.5 percent in November and well below the 10.3 percent rate of a year ago. But the drop came because more than 30,000 people dropped out of the labor force last month, likely because they gave up looking for work during the holiday season. The actual number of county residents who reported they were working was unchanged from November.

Los Angeles employment rates continues to lag the state and the nation. California’s jobless rate was 8.3 percent in December, while the national rate was 6.7 percent.

The only bit of good news: the unemployment rates for the county’s two largest cities dipped into the single digits for the first time since mid-2008 as both Los Angeles and Long Beach recorded a rate of 9.7 percent.

On the payroll jobs front, the lack of new jobs kept the total number of nonfarm payroll jobs just below 4 million. The biggest gains were in retail trade (up 3,700 jobs), professional and business services (up 2,100) and local government (up 1,900).

But these job gains were offset by continued losses in manufacturing, which lost 2,700 jobs last month, and the motion picture industry, which shed 3,400. Surprisingly, construction jobs fell by 2,300 after several months of gains.

When adjusted for seasonal factors, the county actually lost about 8,400 jobs in December, according to data analyzed by Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles consulting firm.

The more closely watched year-over-year growth in payroll jobs also slowed in December. Nonfarm employment increased by 46,000 jobs over the past 12 months, for a growth rate of 1.2 percent; that’s down from 2 percent growth earlier in the year.

Professional and business services added the most jobs (nearly 18,000), with most of that coming from growth in temporary employment. Leisure and hospitality gained 16,000 jobs. On the down side, manufacturing shed 9,000 jobs over the past year, while motion picture employment fell 4,000 jobs.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.