Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Unemployment Climbs Back Over 10 Percent

By Howard Fine Originally published September 20, 2013 at 2:25 p.m., updated September 20, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate climbed back into double digits in August, reaching 10.1 percent, according to state figures released Friday.

The state Employment Development Department reported that the August unemployment rate rose from 9.9 percent in July. The jobless rate remained below its 10.9 percent level of a year ago.

The August increase came as more than 12,000 people entered the labor force looking for work, countering the gains made by 6,000 previously unemployed residents who reported they were working.

Statewide, the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in August from 8.7 percent in July, but down sharply from 10.4 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate stood at 7.3 percent in August.

In the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, the August unemployment rate topped 11 percent.

The county showed a slight increase of 6,500 payroll jobs, or 0.2 percent, to just shy of 3.9 million. Adjusted for seasonal factors, the county gained nearly 20,000 payroll jobs, according to an analysis from Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles consulting firm.

Education, health care, construction and manufacturing sectors all reported gains of about 1,500 jobs. The gain in manufacturing jobs was notable since it runs counter to the long-term declining trend.

“We’ve seen an uptick in manufacturing job postings,” said Iyda Kelati, South Bay branch manager for Adecco, an employment services firm. “Companies that had gone through mass layoffs and had been running very lean are finally more comfortable in adding back some head count.”

The notoriously volatile entertainment sector was the biggest jobs loser in August, dropping payroll 4,600 jobs. The government sector lost 1,700 jobs.

Payroll jobs data are derived from a survey of employers, while the unemployment data come from a household survey.

Over the past year, the county has added 52,000 payroll jobs for a growth rate of 1.4 percent. The growth has been led by food service, professional and business services, education and construction.

Kelati said the improvement this past year has been dramatic.

“Compared to a year ago, we’re now in a much better place,” she said. “Companies seem to be opening up their doors and have many more positions they are posting with us.”