Unemployment rate drops to 10.6% in June

Customers buying records at Amoeba Music’s grand reopening on April 1, 2021.

Photo by Thomas Wasper

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate fell to 10.6% in June from a revised 10.7% in May, as employers created nearly 29,000 jobs in the month, according to data released on July 16.

The state’s employment development department said an additional 10,000 county residents found jobs last month, bringing the total number of jobs to 4.57 million.

The labor force grew from 5,000 to 5.11 million as more residents entered the market in search of employment.

A year ago, the unemployment rate was stratospheric 17.9% as the first and most drastic phase of the pandemic-induced lockdown had just ended. But the rate still has a long way to go before reaching the June 2019 pre-pandemic level of 4.5%.

And the LA County unemployment rate for June is still significantly higher than the 7.7% statewide and 5.9% nationwide.

The EDD also released a breakdown of unemployment rates for cities in the county. The two largest cities, Los Angeles and Long Beach, have rates of 10.5% and 10.8% respectively. Among cities with at least 10,000 working people, Lancaster had the highest unemployment rate of 13.8% while Lomita had the lowest at 5.7%.

Meanwhile, LA County employers created 28,700 net jobs in June, bringing the total number of salaried jobs to 4.21 million. Although this is a substantial number of jobs, it is the first month since January that less than 30,000 jobs have been added to the payroll of employers in the county.

The EDD also calculates a payroll that adjusts for seasonal factors, such as the end of the school year or the start of the summer tourist season. For June, that adjusted figure showed 29,700 jobs created in June compared to May, which roughly matches the raw numbers.

The 4.21 million total salaried jobs for June reflect a gain of about 362,000 jobs since the worst of the pandemic shutdown in April 2020. But that’s a drop of about 410,000 jobs. from February 2020, the peak month before the shutdown, and 344,000 from June 2019, showing that the county still has a long way to go to reach pre-pandemic employment levels.

The biggest gains in wage employment for June compared to May came in accommodation and food services, which added 7,500 net jobs as the economy officially reopened. Arts / entertainment / recreation followed, adding 6,800 net jobs, followed by health care / social assistance with 5,700 net jobs added.

Unsurprisingly, given that June typically ends the school year, the private education sector saw the biggest drop in payrolls, shedding 7,500 jobs as substitute teachers and other temporary workers education were made redundant.

Since June of last year, the county has gained a net 210,000 salaried jobs for an increase of 5.2%. That’s a slower growth rate than the 7.6% reported between May 2020 and last May, although it partly reflects the huge increase in jobs reported in June of last year.

The largest year-over-year gains were in accommodation and food services (up 54,300 jobs), professional / business services (up 26,700) and trade in retail (up 25,200).

The state government payroll in LA County saw the biggest job decline in the past 12 months, shedding 9,000 jobs. This is expected to reverse in July, as the new fiscal year begins and a record budget surplus begins to filter through the system.

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