L.A. County’s unemployment rate inched up to 4.9 percent in August even as employer payrolls grew, state figures released Friday showed.

The unemployment rate increased slightly from July’s 4.8 percent, which was the lowest level in at least 10 years. The main reason was that a net of 24,000 more people entered the workforce looking for work, hoping to take advantage of a robust jobs market.

The unemployment rate was down sharply from 6.4 percent a year ago and remained below the statewide rate of 5.5 percent. It also tied the national average.

The news was better on the payroll jobs front as employers in the county added nearly 13,000 jobs to their payrolls in August. That was a rebound from a huge seasonal drop of 56,000 jobs in July.

Leading the way was a jump of 5,100 jobs in the entertainment sector as the fall television season ramped up production after its traditional summer hiatus.

Indeed entertainment has been a strong sector for employment in recent months, according to Brandi Britton, district president for the Los Angeles region for Robert Half International, a Menlo Park staffing firm.

“A couple of years ago, we were wondering what was happening to entertainment in Los Angeles,” Britton said. “Now, especially in the past few months of dealing with our clients, entertainment employment has definitely come back and is at solid levels.”

Other sectors posting gains were professional and business services (also up 5,100 jobs) and leisure/hospitality (up 2,400). Manufacturing was the only sector reporting a significant drop in payroll jobs, shedding 2,300.

Looking over the past 12 months, the county gained 74,000 jobs, for a growth rate of 1.7 percent. Healthcare/social assistance, led the way with 21,500 jobs, followed by professional/business services (up 18,600), and leisure hospitality (up 14,000). Again, manufacturing was the major loser, dropping by 6,400 jobs over the past year.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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