Los Angeles Business Journal

Unemployment Rate Unchanged for L.A.

By Howard Fine Originally published August 17, 2012 at 9:11 a.m., updated August 17, 2012 at 1:49 p.m.

L.A. County’s jobs recovery stalled in July as the unemployment rate remained unchanged from June and the county lost 44,000 payroll jobs as schools let out for the summer and overall hiring slowed, according to figures released Friday.

The stall in the unemployment rate at 11.2 percent breaks a three-month string of drops, according to the state Employment Development Department. Overall, the rate has fallen substantially from the 12.5 percent level of a year ago.

However, the rate is still higher than the 10.7 percent statewide figure and well above the national rate of 8.3 percent.

Locally, the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted unemployment rates of 13.1 percent; however, unlike the countywide figure, those rates are unadjusted for seasonal factors such as the closure of schools.

That surge in seasonal layoffs among schoolteachers accounted for 29,000 of the 44,000 drop in payroll jobs in July. In fact, adjusting for this and other seasonal factors, L.A. County’s payroll jobs fell by only 1,100 in July from June, according to Los Angeles economic consulting firm Beacon Economics.

Other industries reporting substantial job losses included health care/social assistance, motion picture/sound recording and local government. The largest gain was a mere 800-job increase in financial services.

“Normally in July, a lot of companies start ramping up for the Christmas holiday. But this year, a lot of companies seemed to increase their employment a little earlier and held steady in July,” said Mara Klug, regional vice president in Los Angeles for Adecco, a temporary employment firm based in Zurich, Switzerland.

“We saw this happen most in the trade, transportation and distribution sector -- areas that involve the shipping into the region. We’ve also seen a slight slowdown in hiring in manufacturing,” she said.

Unlike the unemployment figures, which are derived from a household survey, the payroll jobs come from a sampling of local employer payroll filings with the state.

Despite July’s slowdown, the jobs picture has improved significantly over the past year. L.A. County gained 59,000 jobs in that time span, for a relatively robust growth rate of 1.6 percent.