Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Jobless Rate Dips Below 12 Percent

By Howard Fine Friday, December 16, 2011

L.A. County’s unemployment rate in November fell below 12 percent for the first time in two years.

The local jobs picture was boosted by seasonal holiday hiring that pushed the unemployment rate below 12 percent and added 10,000 jobs to employer payrolls, according to state figures announced Friday.

The county’s unemployment rate fell to 11.9 percent in November from 12.2 percent in October and 13 percent a year ago, according to a monthly report from the state Employment Development Department.

The statewide average was 11.3 percent, down from 11.7 percent in October and 12.5 percent a year ago. The national average was 8.6 percent.

The county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, both posted unemployment rates of 12.7 percent, or roughly one in eight people in the labor force.

In a separate survey, employers in L.A. County added 10,400 people to their payrolls in November to top 3.8 million. Retail stores posted the biggest gain of 13,300 jobs, due to seasonal holiday hiring. There were also modest increases in private education and government payrolls.

Professional and business services posted the biggest drop, falling by 4,400 jobs, with administrative and support services accounting for most of the decline. Manufacturing employment, which had stabilized earlier this year, fell by 3,600 jobs.

Adjusting for seasonal hiring factors, L.A. County’s payroll employment actually fell by nearly 12,000 jobs, according to figures from Los Angeles economic consulting firm Beacon Economics.

In the closely watched year-over-year payroll jobs data, total nonfarm employment increased by 12,500 jobs, or 0.3 percent. That’s a smaller percentage gain than in recent months and indicates job growth may be slowing.

Education and health services reported the largest year-over-year increase of 9,800 jobs, followed by retail stores and the information sector. The government sector posted the largest drop of 5,000 payroll jobs, with more than half of the decline coming from local governments.