Los Angeles County unemployment rate drops to 8.4% in December

Customers dine outside Cafe Urth in Pasadena. (Photo by Ringo Chiu).

Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell to 8.4% in December, from 8.9% in November and 9.4% in October, amid robust hiring that saw county employers add 22 000 salaried jobs, according to state figures published on January 21.

The fall in the unemployment rate – a full percentage point in two months – is due both to employers creating jobs and to fewer people in the labor force. According to figures from the state’s Department of Employment Development, the size of the labor force fell by 10,000 in December to 5,064,000 as many LA County residents dropped out of the job market to caring for children or family members or waiting for the end of the holiday season to improve their lives. employment prospects.

The decline in December followed a drop of 9,000 in November. Nonetheless, December’s 8.4% unemployment rate is the lowest since March 2020 and is a significant improvement from a year ago, when the county’s unemployment rate was 12.6%, and it represented less than half of the peak of 18.8% reached in May 2020 at the most. of the pandemic-related shutdown of a large part of the economy.

Still, LA County’s unemployment rate continued to lag statewide progress, where the rate stood at 6.5% in December. And that was more than double the national unemployment rate of 3.9%.


The EDD also released a breakdown of unemployment rates for towns in the county; these rates differ from the county average because they are not adjusted for seasonal factors such as vacation rental. The two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted unadjusted rates of 6.4% and 6.7% respectively in December. Of cities with at least 10,000 people in the labor force, Lancaster had the highest unemployment rate at 9.7%, while Lomita had the lowest at 3.3%.


Meanwhile, Los Angeles County employers reported 22,000 more net payroll jobs in December than in November, about half of November’s gain of 43,000 payroll jobs. Nevertheless, the county has now recovered 537,000, or 70%, of the 773,000 jobs lost during the spring 2020 pandemic-induced economic shutdown. But it is still short about 235,000 jobs from February 2020 levels, just before closing.


December’s gains were split among the county’s 11 major industrial sectors. But unlike most Decembers, retail hiring did not show the biggest job gain. Instead, the biggest gain came from an unusual source: mail and courier services, which gained 5,100 jobs during the month, considerably more than the 3,700 jobs in brick-and-mortar retail. . On a percentage basis, the gap was even wider: hiring in retail trade rose 0.9% in December compared to November, while courier and courier services rose 8.7%.


The EDD noted in its statement that the courier and courier services category includes parcel delivery, which would seem to indicate a huge increase in online orders that needed to be delivered to people’s homes.
It also partly explains why EDD’s seasonally adjusted payroll employment figures for all industries in December showed a gain of 27,900 jobs from November, considerably higher than the unadjusted figure of 22,000 gains in December. jobs.

Since December of last year, the county has gained 286,400 net salaried jobs for a 7% increase, a growth rate slightly faster than the 6.1% growth recorded between November 2020 and last November. The December to December comparison represents calendar year 2021, which means the county gained 286,000 salaried jobs in 2021.


However, these figures are preliminary. At the beginning of March, the EDD will publish its annual revision of the reference index; it is likely that the figure of 286,000 jobs in 2021 will see a substantial adjustment up or down.
According to preliminary figures, the accommodation/food sector gained the most payroll jobs in 2021 (up 84,700) between December 2020 and December 2021, followed by professional/business services (up 38,500 jobs) and arts/entertainment/recreation (up 30,900 jobs). ). The motion picture and sound recording industry gained 16,400 salaried jobs over the past year.

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