L.A. County’s unemployment rate fell last month to 6.1 percent as the county added 38,000 jobs, state figures released Friday show.
The October unemployment rate was down from 6.5 percent in September, posting its lowest level since April 2008, according to figures from the state Employment Development Department.
But the rate fell for a worrisome reason: A net 28,000 people left the labor force, either giving up on job hunting or returning to school. The number of county residents who reported they were working actually dropped by 7,000 to just under 4.7 million.
Nonetheless, the October rate was well below the 8 percent unemployment rate recorded a year ago. And the unemployment rates for the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach continued to fall, to 6.3 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.
Statewide unemployment dipped to 5.8 percent in October from 5.9 percent in September. The national unemployment was 5 percent.
Meanwhile, the county gained 38,000 payroll jobs in October to reach a record 4,365,100 jobs, led by seasonal gains of 23,000 jobs in public and private education as schools recorded their first full month of the new academic year. Accounting for this and other seasonal factors, the seasonally-adjusted figure for payroll jobs actually dropped by 2,500.
Other areas showing gains: professional/business services/administrative support (up 8,300), wholesale and retail trade (up 4,500) and entertainment (up 1,400).
“We’ve been seeing a huge spike in the number of administrative and administrative support positions opening up, across a wide swath of industries,” said Chris Garza, Los Angeles region manager for Robert Half International of Menlo Park.
Manufacturing was the only segment to post a major decline of nearly 3,000 jobs. But even here, Garza suggests the picture is more nuanced. He’s noticed a jump in administrative and finance jobs at apparel companies. Even though some of the larger apparel firms may be struggling, he said new apparel companies are sprouting up in Vernon and adjacent areas, and those new firms are hiring.
Over the last 12 months, the county gained 85,000 jobs for a robust growth rate of 2 percent. The largest gains were in health care/social assistance (up 23,000 jobs), leisure/hospitality (18,700) and food services (18,000).
No surprise that the local manufacturing sector posted the most job losses, down 5,000 positions over the last 12 months.