Los Angeles Business Journal

Unemployment Rate Improves but L.A. Loses Jobs

By Howard Fine Friday, May 18, 2012

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate dipped to 11.6 percent in April, but the county lost 7,000 payroll jobs, according to state figures released Friday.

The county’s unemployment rate fell last month from a revised 11.8 percent in March, the state Employment Development Department reported. The rate declined because several thousand people gave up looking for jobs and dropped out of the labor force, which means they’re no longer counted as unemployed. Nonetheless, the rate was down considerably from 12.2 percent a year ago.

Statewide, the unemployment rate also dipped slightly to 10.9 percent in April from a revised 11 percent in March, again because people dropped out of the labor force. Despite the drop, California still had the third highest unemployment rate in the nation. The rates in Nevada and Rhode Island are higher; the national average in April was 8.1 percent.

Locally, the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, recorded unemployment rates of 12.2 percent and 12.1 percent respectively, down from 13 percent earlier this year.

The drop in the county’s payroll jobs was led by a decline in manufacturing, which shed 3,200 jobs for one of the largest drops in that sector in months. Construction payrolls fell by 2,500 jobs, led by a drop in commercial building construction. Private education, professional and business services and government also recorded slight drops in payroll jobs.

The leisure and hospitality sector was the largest gainer in April, up 1,500 jobs. The spectator sports category gained 700 jobs as the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball season began and the city’s two professional basketball teams and professional hockey team entered the playoffs.

Over the past year, the county gained 27,000 jobs, led by the professional and business services sector. Private education and retail also posted hefty job gains. The manufacturing and government sectors had the biggest declines.