Los Angeles County’s jobless rate dipped below 8 percent in January for the first time in nearly six years, according to state figures released Friday.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent, the lowest level since mid-2008, from 8 percent in December. (December’s figure was revised upward from 7.9 percent.) More households reported people working in January, even as more people were looking for work.
The county’s jobless rate still exceeded the statewide rate of 6.9 percent and was well above the national rate of 5.7 percent.
The state Employment Development Department also reported that Los Angeles County lost 62,000 jobs between December and January as post-holiday layoffs hit the retail sector and labor difficulties at the ports hit the distribution sector.
But that drop came amid an annual data revision that resulted in 58,000 more jobs showing up on employer payrolls in the county than previously estimated. That meant November and December saw record numbers of payroll jobs, surpassing the pre-recession peak in 2007.
Along with retailers and distributors, several other types of employers also saw seasonal job losses in January, including professional/business services (down 11,000) and education, entertainment and health care, which each shed about 6,000 jobs.
No sector reported significant job gains between December and January.
But the jobs data were scrambled by the federal government’s annual revision, which included additional data sources and updated sampling methods. That revision added 58,000 jobs, resulting in more than 4.3 million jobs showing up on employer payrolls in the county in both November and December, the first time that threshold has ever been crossed. Payroll jobs had topped 4.2 million twice before, in 1989-90 and again in late 2007.
All these additional jobs meant that between January of last year and this January, the county gained 98,000 jobs, for a growth rate of 2.4 percent. That’s much faster job growth than the 1.5 percent to 2 percent rate reported throughout last year. And it meshes more with what people on the ground have been experiencing.
“I’m glad they are revising the growth rate up,” said Brandi Britton, Los Angeles district president for Robert Half International, a Menlo Park staffing firm for white-collar industries. “We felt the job growth rate has been much greater than reported initially and the momentum has just continued to build.”
Sectors posting the greatest year-over-year job gains were leisure/hospitality (up 23,000); health care (up 20,000); and government (up 11,500).
The only sector reporting significant losses: entertainment, down nearly 6,000 jobs over the year as runaway production continued. That figure does not reflect higher state tax credits for film production, which are kicking in this year.
Surprisingly, manufacturing employment was virtually flat for the year, halting a decades-long trend of declining employment.
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