L.A. County’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent in August for the third straight month, even as the county recorded sizable job gains, according to state figures released Sept. 21.

The steady unemployment rate reflected little movement in the county’s 5.15 million-strong labor force in August. According to the state Employment Development Department figures, the level of unemployment extrapolated from a monthly survey of households in the county showed a decline of 2,000 to 233,000, while employment dropped by 1,000 to 4.92 million and the labor force increased by 1,000 to 5.15 million.

The unemployment rate was below the 4.6 percent L.A. County recorded in August of last year. 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 posted unemployment rates topping 5 percent, with Los Angeles registering a rate of 5.1 percent and Long Beach at 5.4 percent. 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 9.4 percent.

Meanwhile, L.A. County employers added 23,500 jobs to their payrolls in August to reach 4,476,700, reversing the trend of substantial declines over the previous two months due to seasonal job losses in the education sector. Even with a seasonal adjustment applied by the EDD, the county gained 13,200 jobs.

The health care/social services sector was the biggest job gainer in August, up 7,900 jobs. Among the other gainers: motion pictures and sound recording (up 5,500 jobs) and retail trade (up 2,200).

After several months of robust gains, the leisure and hospitality sector posted the biggest drop in payroll jobs in August (down 3,200), with most of that coming from accommodation/food services.

Between August 2017 and this past August, payroll employment in Los Angeles County increased by 62,000, or 1.4 percent.

The leisure and hospitality sector led the gainers, adding nearly 22,000 jobs split almost evenly between arts/entertainment/recreation and accommodation/food services. The healthcare/social assistance sector gained more than 15,000 jobs, while the motion picture and sound recording industry gained 8,600 jobs.

The government sector was the major loser of payroll jobs over the 12 months ending in August, down 3,700 jobs.

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

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