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  • Jason Tuvia

L.A. County Unemployment Drops Below 7 Percent

L.A. County’s unemployment rate fell below 7 percent last month for the first time in more than seven years, according to state figures released Friday.

The August unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, down from 7.1 percent in July and 8.1 percent a year ago, the state Employment Development Department reported. That’s the lowest level since May 2008, before the start of the Great Recession.

But the rate fell for a worrisome reason, as nearly 50,000 people left the state’s labor force last month, a drop of 1 percent. That translated into fewer people looking for work.

Among large cities in the greater Valley region, Palmdale had the highest unemployment in August at 9.3 percent, followed by Antelope Valley neighbor Lancaster at 7.8 percent.

In the east Valley, Glendale reported 6.7 percent for August and Burbank had 5.7 percent.

Santa Clarita reported 6.4 percent. Los Angeles, the largest city in the region, had 7.4 percent in August.

California’s unemployment rate continued to improve, dropping to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July. The national rate fell to 5.1 percent in August.

Meanwhile, the county gained back a portion of the payroll jobs it lost in July, adding a net 7,900 jobs as some schools started up again towards the end of the month. The education sector had shed 38,000 jobs in July as schools let out for the summer.

Public education and health care/social assistance each posted gains of about 5,000 jobs last month, followed by construction, which added 1,000 jobs. Temporary employment services was the only industry to report significant job losses, shedding 3,400 jobs.

Adjusting for seasonal factors, the county gained 3,600 jobs in August.

“Companies with positions to fill now have a faster turnaround than a year ago,” said Shezad Allaudin, vice president of the Los Angeles market for Accountemps, a unit of Robert Half International. “Instead of multiple interviews that could take weeks, they are often filling positions in two or three days, especially as they go after top talent.”

Manufacturing was the only sector with net job losses, down 4,700 as its long-term decline continued.

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