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Friday, Apr 19, 2024

L.A. County Adds 28,000 Jobs in February

L.A. County employers added nearly 28,000 jobs to their payrolls in February in a typical seasonal rebound after January’s plunge, according to state figures released March 22.

Meanwhile, the California Employment Development Department figures showed the county’s unemployment rate was stuck at 5.4% in February, the same as in January, but at a higher level than the 4.9% reading from February of last year.

Returning to the payroll jobs figures, the net gain of nearly 28,000 brought the county’s total tally to 4,549,500. That gain was a sharp reversal from January’s plunge of about 70,000 jobs.

The job gains were spread across a number of industries, led by private education with an increase of 7,200 jobs. That was followed by motion picture/sound recording (up 6,800), health care/social assistance (up 6,300) and accommodation/food service (up 4,200).

These gains were offset by a drop of 3,300 jobs at retail establishments and a decline of 2,100 jobs in transportation/warehousing and utilities.

Several of these industry gains and losses were seasonal, particularly the gain in private education. The state Employment Development Department also releases a seasonally-adjusted payroll jobs figure. When compared to January, the seasonally-adjusted total for February showed a drop of 3,600 jobs.

For the 12-month period ending in February, the county gained a net 9,400 jobs for a growth rate of 0.2%. This year-over-year job growth rate is much lower than the 1% to 2% range the county experienced over the last couple of years, and likely signals the end of the pandemic recovery period.

One factor impacting the growth rate was the sharp downward revision in 2023 payroll jobs in the county that was released earlier this month with the January figures. The revision showed the county had 110,000 fewer payroll jobs than previously estimated.

Looking at the performance of industries over the past 12 months, the health care/social assistance sector posted the biggest net gain of 32,600 payroll jobs. That was followed by private education (up 12,500 jobs) and government (up 11,000 jobs).

Not surprisingly given the strikes that rocked the entertainment world last year, the motion picture/sound recording industry showed the biggest year-over-year decline, shedding a net 33,500 payroll jobs. The professional/business services was next with a drop of 16,000 jobs. The manufacturing sector shed nearly 5,000 jobs over the 12 months ending in February, continuing a decades-long decline.

Unemployment rate unchanged

On L.A. County’s 5.4% February unemployment rate, both the number of people employed and the number of people in the labor force went down, with the labor force dropping by 8,000 to just under 5 million. As a result, the unemployment percentage remained the same.

The county’s rate was slightly higher than the 5.3% statewide average for February, but way higher than the 3.9% national average. California now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

The unemployment figures come from a survey of households in Los Angeles County, while the payroll jobs figures come from a sampling of employer payroll data submitted to the state.

The state agency also breaks down the unemployment figures by city. The county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, reported December unemployment rates of 5.2% and 5.0% respectively in February.

Among cities with more than 10,000 residents in their labor force, Lomita had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.1%, while Lancaster had the highest rate at 7.4%.

Among the cities in the San Fernando, Conejo, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, after Lancaster, the city with the highest unemployment rate in February was Calabasas at 7.1% followed by Palmdale at 6.9%. Burbank’s rate was 6.3%.

In the middle of the pack were the cities of Los Angeles at 5.2%, and Glendale and Santa Clarita, both at 4.9%.

San Fernando, with its 3.9% February unemployment rate, stood alone at the low end for cities in the quad-valley area with labor forces exceeding 10,000.

James Brock
James Brock
James Brock has worked in newsrooms around the world, including in New York, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Houston, and Los Angeles. He began his career with a Newhouse News daily, where he served on the news desk and the editorial page. He was the copy chief for The New York Sun, and founded and edited the personal finance section for Abu Dhabi-based The National, among other positions. He has interviewed Anthony Bourdain, Tom Ford, Mark Cuban, and many other individuals, and has written and edited thousands of stories and articles.

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