L.A. County’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.9 percent in December even as local employers added 26,000 payroll jobs across a broad spectrum of industries, according to state figures released Friday.

Employers added nearly 94,000 jobs in 2015, the biggest gain in many years, according to figures from the state Employment Development Department.

December’s unemployment rate was the lowest since the start of the Great Recession in late 2007 and was much lower than the 8 percent level of a year ago. But it didn’t budge from November as slightly fewer county residents were in the labor force, matched by a drop in the number of residents reporting they were working.

The countywide average unemployment rate of 5.9 percent was a notch above the 5.8 percent statewide average, though it was much higher than the 5 percent national average. And the unemployment rate in the county’s two largest cities – Los Angeles and Long Beach – climbed slightly, to 6.2 percent and 6.4 percent respectively.

The brighter picture in December was on the payroll jobs front. Employers in the county reported to government agencies a net of 26,000 more jobs in December than November, pushing the total number of payroll jobs in the county above 4.4 million for the first time ever.

The payroll job gains were broad based, led by a jump of 6,800 in retail sector jobs as stores finished ramping up for the holiday season. Other sectors reporting hefty gains: professional and business services (up 4,600 payroll jobs), accommodation/food services (up 3,300), education/health services (up 2,900) and entertainment (up 2,500).

No sector reported significant drops in payroll employment last month, a trend that was borne out by observations from a staffing firm.

“We’ve seen very broad-based growth, with no sectors showing weakening of demand for new hires,” said Brett Good, senior district president for Southern California and Arizona for Robert Half International, a Menlo Park staffing company. “In fact, the big issue among our employer clients is how to retain the quality workers they now have, because those workers now have so much more opportunity to move to other firms.”

The picture was even brighter when looking at the entire 2015 calendar year as employers added a net 93,700 jobs to their payrolls for a year-over-year growth rate of 2.2 percent. That’s a more robust growth rate than had been seen in recent months.

The biggest sectors reporting payroll job gains last year: health care/social assistance (up 22,400), accommodation/food services (up 20,900), professional/business services (up 20,000) and wholesale/retail trade (up 15,000).

As expected, the biggest loser last year was manufacturing, down a net 6,200 payroll jobs, continuing a long-term decline. But the volatile entertainment sector also posted a drop of 3,000 jobs, despite increased film tax credits from the state. The December gain, though, could be a sign that those tax credits are finally prompting studios to bring production personnel back to the region.

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