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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

L.A. County Job Creation Slips in December

One month after finally regaining all the 785,000 payroll jobs lost in the pandemic lockdown, L.A. County’s job creation machine slipped in December.

Employers in LA. County trimmed on net 7,600 jobs from their payrolls in December, led by a sharp drop in motion picture and sound recording of 7,800 jobs, according to figures released by the state Employment Development Department today. It was only the second December jobs decline since 2008.

However, when adjusted for seasonal factors such as holiday retail hiring and a slowdown in film production, the EDD figures show the county eked out a gain of 2,100 jobs. And the December total of 4,624,700 payroll jobs was 4,000 higher than the pre-pandemic job tally in February 2020, indicating that the county still has clawed back all of the jobs lost in the pandemic lockdown.

Meanwhile, the county’s unemployment rate fell a notch to 4.7% in December from a revised 4.8% in November.

This was primarily due to a continued slide in the number of people in the county’s labor force, which makes up the denominator in the unemployment rate calculation. In December, the labor force declined by a net 19,000 to 4,934,000; since the pandemic began, the labor force has shrunk by a net total of 337,800 jobs, or 6.4%. That’s a major reason why overall hiring has remained solid in recent months in spite of rising interest rates, high inflation and volatile equity markets.

Nonetheless, the county’s unemployment rate was still above the statewide average of 4.1% and far above the nationwide average of 3.5%.

The EDD also releases a breakout of unemployment rates by city in L.A. County. The two largest cities – Los Angeles and Long Beach – posted rates of 4.5% and 4.4%, respectively. Among other cities with more than 10,000 people in the labor force, Lomita had the lowest unemployment rate at 2%, while Lancaster had the highest rate of 6.5%.

Returning to the payroll job figures, besides the film and television production sector, the other big jobs loser was manufacturing, which shed 4,100 jobs. The construction sector also lost a net 2,400 jobs.

The biggest net jobs gainer in December was from an unusual subsector: couriers and messengers (up 4,200), which includes inter-city delivery of parcels and documents. This may have been tied to a crush of holiday deliveries. Retail trade gained a net 2,500 jobs, much smaller than usual during the holiday season.

For the calendar year 2022, the county gained a net 145,000 payroll jobs, an increase of 3.3%. Health care/social assistance was the biggest sector gainer, adding 35,900 payroll jobs. Accommodation/food services posted a gain over the year of 22,400 jobs, followed by professional/business services at 22,000 jobs.

No sector posted significant net job losses for the calendar year.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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