Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in February as the county added 25,000 jobs across almost every industry, according to state figures released Friday.
The California Employment Development Department reported the county’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from 7.9 percent in January to the lowest level since July 2008. A year ago, the rate stood at 8.7 percent.
In a sign of the local economy’s gathering strength, the unemployment drop came even as more county residents entered the labor force looking for work.
But the county’s unemployment rate remains higher than the statewide average, now 6.7 percent, and far above the national rate of 5.5 percent.
Local employer payrolls rose by a net 25,400 jobs in February to 4.28 million, gaining back some of the seasonal losses in January. The gains were led by education (up 10,000 jobs) and entertainment (up 8,000). Many of the new job positions in entertainment were likely in anticipation of increased state tax credits for film and television production that kick in this spring.
The professional and business services sector added a net 3,800 jobs, while the government sector added 2,600 jobs.
The only sector to post job losses in February was retail trade, which lost a net 7,000 jobs. Some of the losses were seasonal as store payrolls continued to shrink after the holiday hiring season. But some may also have been due to labor unrest and congestion at the ports, which delayed the delivery of goods to store shelves.
Over the longer term, the local jobs picture was strong as the county gained 101,000 jobs over the past 12 months, a growth rate of 2.4 percent. Health services led the way, adding nearly 20,000 jobs. Leisure/hospitality was close behind, up 19,000 jobs, with most of those coming from the restaurant sector. Government, retail trade and professional/business services also posted strong gains.
The only sector to post job losses over the last 12 months was manufacturing, down 3,500, with most of those coming from companies producing non-durable goods.
Among large cities in the greater Valley region, Palmdale had the highest unemployment rate in February at 10.3 percent, followed by Lancaster at 8.6 percent. In the east Valley, Glendale reported Glendale 7.4 percent and Burbank 6.3 percent.
The city of Santa Clarita had a 7.0 percent rate, while Los Angeles, the largest city in the region, had 8.1 percent.