L.A. County’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.4 percent in May as the local economy hovers near full employment, according to state figures released June 15.

Separately, local employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding nearly 16,000 jobs to their payrolls, up from a 5,000-job gain in April, according to the state Employment Development Department.

The steady unemployment rate reflected little movement in the local labor force. The size of the labor force in L.A. County was unchanged in May at 5,141,000, while the number of residents reporting they were working rose by 2,000 to 4,914,000 – a gain of 0.04 percent.

The unemployment rate was below the 4.8 percent L.A. County recorded in May 2017. But it was higher than the 4.2 percent unemployment rate the state registered last month and the 3.8 percent national figure.

L.A. County’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, reported the same 4.1 percent unemployment rate in April. The city with the lowest unemployment rate was Palos Verdes Estates at 0.8 percent, while rates in some small unincorporated communities were as high as 10 percent.

Meanwhile, the county recorded a net addition of 15,700 payroll jobs in May – a substantial increase over the 4,900 reported in April – for a total of 4,496,600 jobs. Adjusted for seasonal factors, the monthly gain was 5,300 jobs.

The leisure/hospitality sector posted the largest job gains as the region geared up for the summer tourist season; the sector gained 10,600 jobs, almost evenly split between accommodation/food services and arts/entertainment/recreation. Other sectors posted small gains in payroll jobs, including administrative/support/waste services (up 4,000 jobs) and local government (up 2,700 jobs).

No sector reported a substantial drop in the number of payroll jobs in May.

Over the 12-month period ending in May, employers in Los Angeles County added a net 63,900 jobs to their payrolls, an increase of 1.4 percent. Among the biggest gainers: Once again, the leisure/hospitality sector led the way, adding 24,600 jobs over the past 12 months; of those, 13,700 positions were added in accommodation/food services while arts/entertainment/recreation rose by 10,900 jobs.

The healthcare/social assistance sector gained 13,500 jobs over the past 12 months, while the Administrative/support/waste services sector gained 11,900 jobs. The wholesale and retail trade segments recorded the largest job losses over the past 12 months, with each shedding 3,400 jobs.

Breaking with historical trend, the manufacturing sector gained about 1,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

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

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