Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Unemployment Rate Falls

By Howard Fine Friday, May 16, 2014

L.A. County’s unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in April as 30,000 more residents found jobs during the month, according to state figures released Friday.

County employers also added nearly 9,000 jobs in April as the leisure and hospitality sector began gearing up for the summer tourist season.

The state Employment Development Department figures represent a noteworthy drop from the unemployment rate of 8.7 percent in March. Just a year ago, the rate stood at 10 percent. The 30,000 more residents who found jobs was the highest figure in more than 20 years.

State jobless figures were even lower, at 7.8 percent in April, as was the national rate of 6.3 percent.

The unemployment rate in the county’s two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, fell to 8.5 percent and 8.4 percent respectively; both were down more than a full percentage point from March.

Payroll jobs gains were led by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 5,500 jobs, most of those related to the traditional summer tourism season.

“We used to see our food and hospitality clients staff up for the summer tourist season all the time,” said Mara Klug, Los Angeles regional vice president for Adecco, a staffing firm based in Glattbrugg, Switzerland. “But we hadn’t seen this for the past five years due to the recession. Now it’s started up again and that’s a good sign.”

Other industries reporting gains in April were private education and construction, each adding roughly 2,000 jobs. But these were offset by a drop of nearly 4,000 jobs in the entertainment sector as more jobs in that industry shift out of state.

In the more closely watched year-over-year figures, county employers added more than 91,000 jobs to their payrolls over the past year, for a robust growth rate of 2.2 percent. The biggest gainers: health care and social assistance, which added 29,000 jobs.

Klug said this robust hiring has led to a shortage of qualified health care administrators. “The talent pool is definitely shrinking,” she said.

On the down side, manufacturing employment continued its long slide, shedding 11,500 jobs in the past year, a rate of nearly 1,000 jobs a month.