Los Angeles Business Journal

Job Losses Hit L.A.

By Howard Fine Originally published March 22, 2013 at 1:27 p.m., updated March 22, 2013 at 9:59 a.m.

L.A. County’s economy took a big hit in January as more than 81,000 payroll jobs were lost and the unemployment rate edged up to 10.4 percent, according to revised state figures released Friday.

Virtually every sector got hit with job losses after the federal government finished its annual revision of employer payroll data. The biggest drop was in retail trade, which saw nearly 20,000 jobs disappear from December to January, in part because of layoffs after the holiday shopping season.

Other sectors taking big hits were motion picture and sound recording (down 14,000 jobs), professional and business services (down 12,500 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (10,000 jobs). All of these sectors consistently posted gains during the past year; with this data revision, some of those gains were likely illusory.

The only sector to post a significant gain was construction, as 800 more people filled payrolls in January.

L.A. County suffered disproportionately in January; statewide, 1,700 jobs were added to payrolls, meaning other parts of the state saw significant job growth.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate edged up in January to 10.4 percent from 10.3 percent in December as more people entered the labor force looking for work. But the rate is still down significantly from the 11.6 percent rate recorded a year ago.

The county’s unemployment rate remains worse than the statewide average of 9.8 percent in January and the national average of 7.9 percent. Unemployment rates in both the City of Los Angeles and Long Beach were above 12 percent.

About the only piece of good news in January’s jobs report was in the year-over-year comparison of payroll jobs figures. Year over year, the county gained 74,000 in the January period, for a strong growth rate of 2 percent. Professional and business services led the way, with nearly 23,000 jobs gained, followed by leisure and hospitality, which gained nearly 19,000 jobs.