The May unemployment rate in L.A. County was 11.4 percent, down from a revised 11.6 percent the previous month and 12.3 percent in May 2011. (California's unemployment rate last month was 10.8 percent, down from 10.9 percent in April.) The local jobless rate has been edging downward for several months now - a frustratingly long process, but reflective of a slow-growth economy that will probably last for several years. That's right, years - there continues to be this notion, being played out in the media and political worlds, that millions of jobs will (or should) materialize out of nowhere, and it's just not going to happen. California did add 33,900 payroll jobs in May, which is quite good, and L.A. added 11,800. Many of the local positions were in leisure and hospitality, but manufacturing gained 2,800 jobs and construction 2,100. Understand these are not huge increases - manufacturing has a workforce in L.A. of 363,000 and construction is at 106,400. Still, it's an increase - and a sign that private sector job growth is gaining a little steam. (Unfortunately, the public sector is in the toilet - and likely to stay there for quite some time.) Actually, this has been a pretty good week for the Socal economy - May home sales in L.A. County jumped 25.3 percent compared with a year earlier, and more significant was a big jump in the number of transactions priced over $300,000. This portion of the market has been nearly stagnant going back to almost the start of the recession. As with the jobs report one month does not make a trend. But these are encouraging signs.
*From Beacon Economics:
California's relative prosperity can be attributed in part to the very warm winter. The national employment numbers saw an unnatural boost from December to February as a result of record high temperatures--trends not seen in California, a state that doesn't face the same rough weather patterns that typically slow economic growth. As a result, it looked as if California was lagging. Some of the recent slowing in the nation was the reverse effect--again, not reflected in the state numbers. But in general the trend--1.6% growth in jobs over the course of the last year and a 1.1 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate--reflects a growing California economy. Technology, exports, and tourism have all bounced back nice, even as the housing market has started to turn the corner. Compared to the nation overall, California added back a staggering number of jobs from April to May. U.S. nonfarm payrolls expanded by 69,000 whereas California added back 33,900 jobs, representing nearly half of all national job growth.