Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire both added jobs in February, with both regions seeing a drop in their unemployment rates, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
Additional figures show that California continues to lead the nation in year-over-year job growth.
“Like the nation as a whole, California is essentially at full-employment,” said Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research at Beacon Economics and the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development at U.C. Riverside. “It’s true we’ll see a somewhat slower pace of job growth compared to recent years, but the wage and income gains that accompany these added jobs will sustain economic growth as we move through the year.”
L.A. County added 33,400 jobs in February
L.A. County employers added 33,400 jobs last month and the county’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent, down from 4.9 percent the previous month and 5.5 percent a year ago. February’s job gains were especially welcome in the wake of the 78,700 jobs that were shed in January, although that downturn was largely attributed to a steep decline in seasonal retail positions that were eliminated at the end of the holiday shopping season.
The county’s biggest employment boost for February came in educational and health services, which added 11,900 jobs. The region’s leisure and hospitality sector — which takes in restaurants, hotels, museums and sports centers — added another 7,300 jobs and monthly job gains also were seen in professional and business services (up 5,900), construction (up 4,900) and manufacturing (up 1,500) , among others.
Trade, transportation and utilities weathered the only decline with a loss of 8,300 jobs.
Year over year, the county added 70,800 jobs at a rate of 1.6 percent. That outpaced January’s annual gain of 62,600 jobs added at a rate of 1.5 percent.
Inland Empire added 9,000 jobs in February
The Inland Empire boosted its payrolls with 9,000 new jobs in February and its unemployment rate dropped to 5.3 percent compared with 5.6 in January and the year-ago rate of 5.9 percent. February’s employment gains also provided a nice turnaround from the nearly 20,000 jobs that were lost in January, primarily as a result of seasonal cuts in retail trade.
The two-county region’s biggest employment bump for February came in construction, which added 3,900 jobs. Additional increases were seen in educational and health services (2,700 jobs) and several other industries, including professional and business services (1,900), leisure and hospitality (1,400) and manufacturing (300).
Edwin Moreno, production manager for Rudy’s Custom Cabinets in San Bernardino, wasn’t surprised to hear that construction led the way for job creation last month. His company has plenty of work in the pipeline.
“We build cabinets of all kinds for commercial and residential projects,” Moreno said. “We do work for schools, city halls, fire departments and courthouses. We’re keeping pretty busy.”
The I.E. added 48,600 jobs over the year
The Inland Empire added 48,600 jobs over the past 12 months at a rate of 3.5 percent, surging ahead of January’s year-over-year increase of 44,100 jobs that were added at a rate of 3.2 percent.
On a broader scale, California’s unemployment rate dipped to 5 percent in February, down from 5.2 percent the month before and 5.6 percent a year earlier. The state added 22,900 jobs last month, a significant uptick from the 9,700 that were added in January.
California leads nation in job growth
The Golden State led the nation in year-over-year job creation with 315,800 jobs added. That outpaced Florida, which ranked second with 248,800 jobs created during the year and Texas, which added 222,400.
“If you look at the last three years most of the jobs that have been added in California have come from L.A. County, followed by the Inland Empire, then the San Francisco area, Orange County and Silicon Valley,” Inland Empire economist John Husing said. “Most of the job creation has come from Southern California.”
Retail closures are coming
The Southland will likely feel some significant job losses this year as several major retailers plan to shutter many of their stores.
Macy’s plans to close 68 stores, J.C. Penney has targeted 138 locations and Sears and Kmart are looking to shutter 150 stores. Sears made an even more dire prediction this week when the company said that there is “substantial doubt” it will be able to keep its doors open.