L.A. County’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.4% in October as the education sector led a broad hiring surge, according to state figures released Nov. 15.

State Employment Development Department figures show the unemployment rate has held in the mid-4% range for the past six months, slightly above the record low of 4.2% reached early in the year – an indication of a local job market at or near full employment. In October 2018, the rate was 4.7%.

The county’s 4.4% unemployment rate remained slightly higher than the 3.9% statewide average for October and was nearly a full percentage point above the national average of 3.6%.

The unemployment rate, which is based on a monthly household survey, didn’t change because the number of people entering the labor force looking for work was mostly offset by the additional people reporting they had jobs. Roughly 13,000 people entered the labor force looking for work, bringing that total to 5.11 million while 10,000 more people reported they were working, bringing the employment total to 4.89 million.

The EDD also reported that the number of people on employer payrolls in Los Angeles County shot up by 38,000 in October to reach 4.61 million. Much of that increase was driven by a jump in education-related employment for 20,000 jobs as the academic year went into full swing. The health care/social assistance sector added another 3,800 jobs, followed by the leisure/hospitality sector with a net gain of 3,800 jobs.

The only sector to experience a significant net loss of jobs in October was motion picture/sound recording, which shed a net 2,100 jobs. That follows a drop of 1,900 jobs in September.

The state EDD takes into account seasonal variations such as increases in education hiring by releasing a seasonally adjusted payroll jobs figure that’s closely watched by economists. In October, the adjusted figure showed a minuscule drop of 300 jobs, meaning there was essentially no change from September.

For the 12-month period ending in October, employers added 61,700 jobs to their payrolls, a growth rate of 1.4% from October of last year. This closely watched figure is slightly above year-over-year job growth rates recorded in previous months and is another indicator of a strong local economy.

The health care/social assistance sector gained the most jobs during the 12 months ending in October, adding a net 30,200 positions. Food services/drinking establishments added a net 9,800 jobs, followed closely by construction, which added a net 9,700 jobs.

Again, motion picture/sound recording was the only industry sector that posted a significant reduction over the 12 months ending in October, dropping by 12,600 jobs.

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

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