L.A. County’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent in July even as seasonal job losses gripped the education sector, according to state figures released Aug. 17.

The steady jobless rate was the result of a balancing of two trends: roughly 3,000 more Los Angeles County residents reported they had jobs in July compared with the previous month, but the labor force also grew to 5.15 million as 3,000 more people began looking for work, according to the state Employment Development Department.

The unemployment rate was below the 4.7 percent L.A. County recorded in July 2017. But it was higher than the 4.2 percent unemployment rate the state registered last month and the 3.9 percent national figure.

L.A. County’s two largest cities saw their unemployment rates tick up beyond 5 percent, with Los Angeles registering a rate of 5.1 percent and Long Beach at 5.2 percent; both were at 4.9 percent in June. The city with the lowest unemployment rate was Palos Verdes Estates at 1.1 percent, while rates in some small unincorporated communities were as high as 13 percent.

Meanwhile, employers in Los Angeles County reported a net drop of 47,500 payroll jobs in July to 4,447,000, according to the EDD data. The vast majority of the drop came in education after the end of the academic year in June, with public sector K-12 schools shedding 37,500 jobs and private education institutions dropping by 5,000 for a total sector loss of 42,500.

The EDD released another set of payroll figures that adjust for this huge seasonal factor; those adjusted figures showed a net gain of 7,300 jobs in July

Besides education, the professional and business services category was the biggest loser, shedding a net 4,300 jobs in July. That was offset by a gain of 6,400 jobs in the leisure/hospitality sector as the summer tourist season kicked in to full gear.

For the 12 months ending in July, the county gained nearly 49,000 jobs, or about 1.1 percent. That’s the slowest year-over-year growth rate in recent months and is another sign the local economy has been running near full employment for a while.

The leisure/hospitality sector posted the biggest year-over-year gain, increasing by a net 28,500 jobs, split almost evenly between performing arts/sporting events and food and drink establishments. The healthcare/social assistance sector gained 12,000 jobs over the past year.

The retail sector posted the largest year-over-year job decline, down 4,000 in July from a year earlier, with the losses almost evenly split between stores and wholesale trade.

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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