The writers and actors strikes rocking the local entertainment sector cast a shadow on an otherwise modestly favorable jobs picture for L.A. County in August, according to state figures released Friday.
The motion picture and sound recording industry lost a net 5,100 jobs in August, according to the state Economic Development Department figures. That put a damper on seasonal gains in the education sector as some large school districts, including Los Angeles Unified, hired personnel at the start of their academic year.
Overall, the county gained a net 8,600 jobs to reach 4,626,000 in August. But in the more closely-watched figure that seasonally adjusts for the roughly 9,000 education-sector jobs gained in August, the county posted a net loss of about 10,000 jobs. Half of loss that was due to the Hollywood strikes.
On the plus side, several sectors saw modest gains in August compared to July, including construction (up, 2,400 jobs) transportation/warehousing (up 1,600) and retail trade (up 1,300).
Besides motion picture/sound recording, no sector recorded a net loss exceeding 1,000 jobs in August.
For the 12-month period ending in August, the county gained about 100,000 jobs for a 2.2% growth rate. The social assistance sector added the most jobs on net – 28,800 – followed by food services/drinking places (up 24,700).
Not surprisingly, the biggest drop in employment over those 12 months was the motion picture/sound recording industry, with a net loss of 31,600 jobs.
But the entertainment sector strikes have only barely nudged the county’s unemployment rate, which has alternated between 4.9% and 5.0% for the entire year to date. In August, the preliminary seasonally adjusted rate was 5.0%, up from 4.9% in July and considerably higher than the 4.2% recorded in August of last year.
Under state law, workers on strike do not count toward the unemployment rate.
As has been the case for years now, the county’s unemployment rate was somewhat higher than the 4.6% statewide average and well above the 3.8% nationwide rate.
The agency also breaks out unemployment rates by city within Los Angeles County, though those figures are not adjusted for seasonal factors as the countywide rate is. The two largest cities – Los Angeles and Long Beach – recorded rates of 6.2% and 5.6% respectively.
The highest unemployment rate for cities with labor forces exceeding 10,000 was in Burbank, at 8.5%, which was not surprising given the heavy concentration of entertainment jobs in that city. The lowest rate of 2.4% was in Lomita.
In the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Antelope and Conejo valley portions of Los Angeles County, Burbank’s 8.5 % unemployment rate was the highest in August, followed closely by Calabasas at 8.3%. Lancaster and Palmdale came next at 7.3% and 7.2% respectively. The city of Los Angeles – only part of which is in the four-valley region – was next at 5.8%, which was tied with Glendale.
On the low end, San Fernando city’s 4.5% was the lowest unemployment rate, followed by Agoura Hills at 5.2% and Santa Clarita at 5.6%.