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Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

L.A. County Adds 5,000 Jobs in December

L.A. County’s job creation machine slowed in December as the county added a net 5,300 jobs during the month, down from 32,000 in November, according to state figures released Jan. 19.

The more modest increase was almost entirely due to a hiring surge among retailers amidst the holiday shopping rush.

Meanwhile, the state Employment Development Department figures showed, the county’s December unemployment rate remained unchanged from November at 5.3%, which in turn was up slightly from October’s 5.2%.

Returning to the payroll jobs figures, the Employment Development Department figures from last month showed a total of 4.72 million jobs, an increase of just 5,300 from November. Nonetheless, the December figure was still a record high for the county, nearly 70,000 more jobs than the pre-pandemic high reached in Dec. 2019.

The retail sector accounted for virtually all of this payroll jobs increase as retail outlets added 5,200 jobs to their payrolls in December.

The state agency also releases seasonally adjusted payroll jobs data that factor in typical occurrences such as holiday hiring surges among retailers. Those seasonally adjusted figures showed the county gaining on net 17,800 jobs.

Other sectors reporting net job gains in December were health care/social assistance, with a gain of 4,300 jobs, followed by financial activities (up 1,500 jobs) and business/professional services (up 800 jobs).

As has been the case for much of this year, the motion picture/sound recording industry posted the biggest loss in payroll jobs in December, shedding 2,200 jobs. While the strikes that plagued the industry much of the year had been settled by December, there was still enough resulting turmoil to prompt many employers to continue cutting payrolls.

Other sectors posting job losses in December were construction (down a net 1,600 jobs), accommodation/food services (down 1,100 jobs) and manufacturing (down 1,000 jobs).

For the 2023 calendar year, the county gained a net 96,000 payroll jobs, a 2.1% increase over the previous year.

The sector posting the biggest gain for all of last year was health care/social assistance, where employers added 49,000 jobs to their payrolls. Next was accommodation/food services (up nearly 26,000 jobs), followed by government (up 12,500 jobs).

Not surprisingly given the writers’ and actors’ strikes, the motion picture/sound recording industry posted the biggest net drop in jobs during last year, shedding 23,300 jobs. Two other sectors posted more modest net drops in jobs: professional/business services (down 5,400 jobs) and manufacturing (down 1,300 jobs).

Unemployment holds steady

After hovering in the 4.9% to 5.0% range for much of the year, the county’s unemployment rate has in the last three months pushed higher out of that range to a new steady level of 5.3%. By comparison, the Dec. 2022 unemployment rate was 4.6%

The county’s rate in December was slightly higher than the statewide 5.1% rate and significantly higher than the national average of 3.7%

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. For the past three months, these sets of figures have been moving in different directions.

In December, the county’s labor force fell by 17,000 to 4.98 million as many unemployed residents may have suspended their job searches during the holiday season.

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 4.8% respectively.

Among cities with more than 10,000 residents in their labor force, Lomita had the lowest unemployment rate at 2%, while Calabasas had the highest rate at 7.1%.

Among the cities in the San Fernando, Conejo, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, after Calabasas, the city with the highest unemployment rate in December was Burbank at 6.9%. Next was Lancaster at 6.7%, followed closely by Palmdale at 6.5%.

In the middle of the pack were the cities of Los Angeles at 5.2%, Glendale at 4.9% and Santa Clarita at 4.7%.

San Fernando, with its 3.8% December 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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