Los Angeles Business Journal

Mixed Jobs Report for L.A. County

By Howard Fine Originally published March 9, 2012 at 10:42 a.m., updated March 9, 2012 at noon

California and the nation may be recovering, but L.A.’s economy is still stuck in the mire.

L.A. County’s unemployment rate dipped to 11.8 percent January from a revised 12 percent in December, according to state figures released Friday. But the county’s job machine went into reverse, shedding 85,000 jobs in January as 10 of the 11 local industry sectors showed declines in employment.

January’s sharp drop in payroll jobs was partly due to an annual revision of the jobs data by state and federal government statisticians; that revision indicates that the county’s reported job gains in recent months – already meager – were overstated.

Adjusting for seasonal factors, L.A. County firms shed about 16,000 jobs from their payrolls in January, according to figures from Los Angeles-based economic consulting firm Beacon Economics.

The drop in the county’s unemployment rate was largely the result of fewer people entering the labor force. The 11.8 percent figure released by the state Employment Development Department was an improvement from a year ago, when the rate stood at 12.5 percent.

But the unemployment rate was worse than the statewide average in January of 10.9 percent and was much worse than the national average of 8.3 percent. And the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, saw their rates remain stubbornly high, at 13.3 percent and 13.2 percent respectively.

The unemployment data is based on a survey of households, while payroll jobs data comes from employer filings.

While virtually of the county’s industry sectors saw drops in payroll jobs, hardest hit was the motion picture industry, which shed nearly 24,000 jobs. The retail sector lost 14,700 jobs, mostly due to layoffs of temporary holiday workers. Professional and business services shed 13,000 jobs and private education lost nearly 7,000 jobs.

No industry sector gained jobs between December and January.