L.A. County’s unemployment rate fell to 5.6 in February, the lowest it’s been in more than eight years.

The drop comes as the county’s job market rebounded from January losses with 45,000 new jobs, according to state figures released Friday.

The unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent in January, hitting its lowest point since November 2007, according to the state Employment Development Department. In previous months the figure fell because people were leaving the labor force, but this month was different. The county’s labor force, which is tracked in a household survey by government agencies, expanded by 15,000, indicating some residents returned to the job market.

The county’s unemployment rate was a notch above the statewide level of 5.5 percent and was considerably above the 4.9 percent national rate for January.

Even better news was the sharp rebound in jobs on employer payrolls in February after January’s devastating drop. The county added 45,800 jobs in February according to payroll data submitted by employers, topping 4.33 million. That’s just over half of the 88,000 jobs lost in January. While February typically is a rebound month, this year’s gains were more than usual; seasonally adjusted figures show an increase of 21,000 jobs over the norm for the month.

The payroll job gains were broad-based, with almost every sector reporting increases. The notoriously volatile entertainment sector led the way with a gain of 12,000 jobs as state tax credits pulled more film and television production back to the region.

Other major payroll job gainers: private education (up 9,400), professional/business services (up 7,100), health care/social assistance (up 6,700) and leisure/hospitality (up 4,800). More than half the gain in professional/business services was due to accounting and tax preparation services staffing up for tax season.

The only sectors posting job losses in February were retail (down 5,700) and logistics (down 2,400), continuing a post-holiday season slowdown.

Perhaps the most encouraging news was the huge increase of 107,000 payroll jobs over the past 12 months. That’s an extraordinarily robust gain of 2.5 percent, well above the average of nearly 2 percent in recent months.

Leading the way in year-over-year job growth was health services, which added 37,000 jobs. Other big gainers were accommodation/food services (up 15,300 jobs); professional/business services (up 13,800 jobs); and entertainment (up 9.400).

As expected, the only sector posting a net job decline over the past 12 months was manufacturing, which shed 8,000 jobs as part of a continuing long-term decline.

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