Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell to 8.9% in November from 9.4% in October amid a hiring surge that saw employers in the county add 43,000 payroll jobs, according to state figures released Dec. 17.

But these added jobs were only part of the picture. According to figures from the state Employment Development Department, the size of the labor force fell by 9,000 in October to 5,071,000 as many L.A. County residents dropped out of the workforce to return to school, care for children or family members, or wait for better job prospects.


November’s 8.9% unemployment rate represents the first time since March 2020 that the rate fell below 9% and is a significant improvement from a year ago, when county’s unemployment rate was 12.5%, and it was exactly half the peak of 18.8% reached in May 2020 at the maximum extent of the pandemic-related shutdown of much of the economy.


Yet L.A. County’s unemployment rate continued to lag downward progress statewide, where the rate stood at 6.9% in November. And it was more than double the national unemployment rate of 4.2%.


The EDD also released a breakdown of unemployment rates for cities within the county. The two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted seasonally unadjusted rates of 7.2% and 7.7% respectively in November. Among cities with at least 10,000 people in the labor force, Compton and Lancaster tied for the highest unemployment rate at 10.9%, while Lomita had the lowest at 3.8%.


Meanwhile, employers in L.A. County reported a net 42,800 more jobs on their payrolls in November than in October. The county now has gained back exactly two-thirds of the 773,000 jobs lost during the spring 2020 pandemic-induced lockdown of the economy. But it’s still roughly 351,000 jobs short of the Feb. 2020 level, just before the shutdown.


November’s gains were spread across several industry sectors, led by a seasonal jump of 14,000 in retail trade jobs as stores entered holiday hiring mode. That was followed by a net gain of 9,100 jobs in the transportation/warehousing sector and a jump of 7,800 jobs in professional/business services.


The EDD also adjusts for seasonal trends – in November that’s usually a boom in retail hiring. With this adjustment, the county gained a net 26,700 jobs, still a significant number.


Two sectors reported slight drops in jobs in November from October: manufacturing (down 1,400 jobs) and motion picture/sound recording (down 1,300 jobs).


Since November of last year, the county gained a net 251,000 payroll jobs for an increase of 6.1%, a slightly faster growth rate than the 5.6% reported between October 2020 and this past October.


The accommodation/food services sector gained the most payroll jobs (58,000) between November 2020 and November 2021, followed by professional/business services (up 40,300 jobs) and arts/entertainment/recreation (up 28,500 jobs).


The motion picture/sound recording industry gained 17,400 payroll jobs over the past year.
No sector reported a significant net job loss over the past 12 months. But the financial activities sector reported flat jobs performance over that period, with the number of jobs unchanged at 209,000.

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