Customers shopping for records at Amoeba Music's grand reopening on April 1, 2021.

Customers shopping for records at Amoeba Music's grand reopening on April 1, 2021. Photo by Thomas Wasper

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate jumped to 11.7% in April after dipping to 11.4% in March as more people entered the labor force looking for work, according to state figures released May 21.

Data from the state Employment Development Department shows employers added 35,000 jobs to their payrolls in April as the economy continued to reopen from last year’s pandemic-induced lockdown.

The county’s unemployment rate increased as 29,000 residents entered the labor force — 21,000 of them unemployed and looking for work. The number of county residents who reported being employed rose by a more modest 9,000.

L.A. County’s unemployment rate was much higher than the 8.3% statewide average and nearly twice the national average of 6.1%.

The EDD provided a breakout of unemployment rates in L.A. County’s 88 cities. The two largest cities — Los Angeles and Long Beach — reported rates of 10.9% and 11.5 % respectively. 

The city with the highest unemployment rate was Compton at 15.9%; the lowest rate among cities with a labor force of at least 10,000 was Manhattan Beach at 6%.

On the closely watched payroll jobs front, employers in Los Angeles County added 34,600 jobs to their payrolls in April, bringing the total to 4.14 million. The EDD also provided a seasonally adjusted figure that showed a payroll job gain of 20,800 in April.

Seven of the county’s 11 major economic sectors added jobs on the month, led by leisure/hospitality (up 20,000 jobs). Roughly three-fourths of those new jobs were in the accommodation/food services subsector. The leisure/hospitality sector was one of the hardest hit during last year’s lockdown and is now among those rebounding most sharply as the economy reopens.

Other sectors reporting payroll job gains in April included health care/social assistance (up 6,000) and professional/business services (up 4,100).

Only one sector reported a significant drop in payroll jobs in April as trade/transportation/utilities saw a decline of 4,500 jobs. About 2,500 of those job losses came from the transportation/warehousing/utilities subsector while retail trade shed 1,200 jobs.

Between April 2020 — the nadir of the lockdown — and April of this year, the county gained 295,000 payroll jobs, for a growth rate of 7.7%. However, going back two years, to April 2019, the payroll jobs figure was down by 400,000 or 8.8%.

The EDD noted that, prior to 2020, the last time L.A. County had fewer than 4.14 million jobs was in July 2014.

Not surprisingly, the leisure/hospitality sector posted the biggest year-over-year gain, adding 107,000 payroll jobs. Within that sector, accommodation/food services added 94,000 jobs.

The trade/transportation/utilities sector added 93,000 jobs over the past 12 months, with the retail trade subsector accounting for 57,000 of those added jobs.

The government sector posted the biggest loss in payroll jobs over the past 12 months, down 38,000. Nearly 33,000 of those job losses occurred in public education.

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