L.A. County’s unemployment rate rose slightly in September to 5 percent despite relatively strong job growth for the month, state figures released Friday show.
The California Employment Development Department reported that the unemployment rate ticked up from 4.9 percent in August, which had been the lowest reading in nearly a decade. A year ago, the rate was 6.2 percent. The main reason for last month’s increase was a sign of strength for the local economy: 39,000 people entered the labor force looking for work, out of 257,000 people unemployed in a county labor force of 5.1 million.
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Despite the increase, the county’s unemployment rate was still lower than the statewide average of 5.5 percent and matched the national rate. Out of a statewide labor force of 19.3 million, about 1 million people were unemployed in September.
On the jobs front, the EDD reported nonfarm employment in Los Angeles County increased by 19,400 jobs to 4.36 million. That figure is just 12,000 jobs shy of the all-time high reached last December.
The seasonal jump in education employment as the summer recess came to an end accounted for all of this increase and then some, as private and public education payrolls shot up by 31,000 jobs. The only other area showing significant job growth during September was accommodation/food services, which increased by 3,700 jobs.
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Most other industry sectors reported drops in payroll employment, led by construction (down 3,300 jobs) and manufacturing (down 2,900 jobs). Indeed, when the expected seasonal jump in education employment is factored in, the adjusted payroll employment figure actually dropped by 4,500, reflecting this broader weakness.
Over the past 12 months, the county’s payroll employment increased by about 70,000 jobs, a jump of about 1.6 percent. Healthcare/social assistance led the way with a hike of 20,000 jobs; accommodation/food services and professional/business services both increased by about 15,000 jobs.
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Manufacturing and construction were the only sectors posting significant job declines over the past 12 months, shedding 8,500 and 2,500 jobs respectively.
Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.
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