L.A. joins California in sharply lower jobless rate*

jobless4.jpgA generally positive report. The county's unemployment rate for September was 10.6 percent, down from 11 percent the previous month and 12.4 percent a year earlier. It's been almost three years since the jobless rate was this low. The state's rate was 10.2 percent, down from 10.6 percent in August. What makes these numbers less than ideal, however, was the separate payroll survey, which showed that California added only 8,500 jobs in September. This follows similarly disappointing numbers for August. It gets a little confusing because L.A.'s payroll gains were much higher than California a whole - likely the result of seasonal factors such as the start of the school year (look for sizable gains in retail this month and next as stores prepare for the holidays). There's really nothing in the report that changes the overall trend of slow but sustained job growth. But as with the national numbers, some analysts are likely to question the legitimacy of such a big drop in the jobless rate (a decline of 0.4 percent is unusually large). That number comes from the government's household survey, which is separate from the payroll survey - the one that counted only 8,500 additional jobs. (C'mon, pay attention!) From economist Michael Bernick:

Workers will tell interviewers they are self-employed or independent contractors, but [they] have no steady income: The Household survey, used to calculate the unemployment rate, involves contacting individuals and asking them about their employment status. A worker may state he is self-employed or an independent contractor, and thus be counted as "employed". However, the worker may well be achieving little or no income or steady work. The percentage of these workers is difficult to quantify, but job counselors and coaches in California will tell you how prevalent it is among their clients.

*From Beacon Economics:

This sudden drop in the unemployment rate is largely reflective of the drop in unemployment at the national level, and also highlights the large variation that sometimes occurs in the numbers on a month-to-month basis. While a 0.4 percentage point decline over a single month seems high, looking at the longer-term trend, the 1.5 percentage drop from September 2011 to September 2012 makes solid economic sense given the economy's overall growth trends.

Earlier: Big drop in California jobless rate

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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