L.A. County’s unemployment rate in January remained at 4.7 percent for the third straight month, despite heavy seasonal job losses, according to state figures released March 8.

The state Employment Development Department reported the unemployment rate remained unchanged from its revised December estimate as 6,000 more Angelenos entered the workforce and the number of residents reporting they were employed rose by 4,000 to 4.92 million.

The county’s unemployment rate was higher that the statewide average of 4.2 percent and the national average of 4 percent. And, despite slight ups and downs over the past year, the rate was the same as last January, indicating an economy hovering near full employment.

The holding pattern for the unemployment rate was in spite of a huge seasonal drop of 92,000 payroll jobs in Los Angeles County to 4.49 million. Large drops in payroll jobs are typical for January as retailers and other establishments let go of their holiday season hires. The state takes this into account in also releasing a seasonally adjusted countywide payroll jobs figure; in January, the adjusted figure showed a drop of 2,600 to 4.53 million.

Breaking down the huge drop in the unadjusted payroll jobs figure, the state reported losses in 10 of the 11 major jobs sectors, led by retail trade, with a drop of 19,000. Professional/business services had the next largest drop of 13,700, followed by accommodation/food services and its drop of 12,100 jobs. The only sector not to record a drop was manufacturing, which remained unchanged.

The state EDD has not yet made available detailed industry breakdowns using the adjusted data.

Between January 2018 and this past January, the county gained 30,000 payroll jobs for a growth rate of 0.7 percent, about half the growth pace the county experienced a couple years ago.

The January payroll job figures reflected annual revisions by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state EDD. While in many years those revisions result in substantial numbers of jobs being discovered or removed, this year there was a modest increase of 6,000 payroll jobs in the county, or just over 0.1 percent.

Some sectors saw bigger adjustments, however: healthcare/social assistance rose by 9,000 to 703,000 total payroll jobs; government rose by 7,000 to 599,000 jobs; professional/business services fell by 14,000 to 628,000 jobs; and manufacturing fell by 8,000 to 342,000 jobs.

Education, energy, engineering/construction and infrastructure reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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