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California’s unemployment rate dips below 6%

By October 16, 2015 No Comments

September 2015 California and Southern California
Summary of Labor Markets


“California’s added just 8,200 jobs last month, but its unemployment rate dropped below six percent for the first time since late 2007,” said Robert Kleinhenz, Chief Economist with the LAEDC. “The yearly gain of 444,300 was more in line with the trend over the past couple of years. In Southern California, Los Angeles led the way with 85,000 jobs added in yearly terms, while Orange County led the region in percentage terms a gain of 3.0%.”


  • The unemployment rate decreased from 6.1% a month ago to 5.9% in September 2015 and fell 1.4% from 7.3% a year earlier. The unemployment rate matched that of November 2007, the last time California’s unemployment rate dropped below 6%. The average since 2000 is 7.6% and was as low as 4.9% for much of 2006, prior to the Great Recession.
  • Nonfarm (wage and salary) employment in California rose by 8,200 month to month (0.1%) to 16.2 million jobs, the smallest monthly increase since May 2011 when 6,900 jobs were added. NOTE: Analysis of seasonally adjusted MSA job numbers shows a gain of 24,100 month-to-month. Since these MSAs represent 88% of all jobs in the state, the monthly gain for California seems low and will likely be revised upward in the coming months.
  • Nonfarm jobs rose by 444,300 or 2.8% compared to a year ago, the weakest yearly increase since September 2012 when jobs rose by 2.5%.
  • All parts of Southern California experienced yearly job increases, and nearly all industries in Southern California added jobs year over year.


California Summary (Seasonally Adjusted Numbers)

Current Month: September 2015

Indicator Yr Ago Month Ago Current Month MTM+ YTY+
Unemployment Rate in % 7.3 6.1 5.9 -0.2% -1.4%
Nonfarm Jobs 15,754,700 16,190,800 16,199,000

+8,200 or


+444,300 or +2.8

+ MTM = month-to-month, YTY = year-to-year

  • California’s unemployment rate is just 0.9% above the national rate of 5.1%, which is less than the long run gap of 1.5%.
  • Over the month, civilian employment increased by 11,900 while the labor force fell by 31,600, contributing to the month-to-month decrease in the unemployment rate.
  • Over the year, the increase in total employment (399,200) exceeded growth in the labor force (143,700), contributing to the decline in the unemployment rate compared to last year.
  • Most segments of the economy added jobs on a year-to-year basis, led by:
    • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (78,000 jobs or 6.5%)
    • Leisure and Hospitality (75,100 jobs or 4.3%)
    • Health Care and Social Assistance (56,600 jobs or +2.7%)
  • All major industries except for Mining and Logging, Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, and Finance and Insurance added jobs year-to year.
  • The following major industries experienced the largest yearly percentage gains:
    • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services at 6.5%
    • Construction at 6.4% (+43,900 jobs)
    • Administrative & Support & Waste Services at 4.5% (+46,100 jobs)


Los Angeles County (Seasonally Adjusted Numbers)

  • This Month: 5%
  • Last Month: 9%
  • Same Month Year Ago: 1%

For September 2015, the Los Angeles labor market continued to improve on a year-to-year basis with the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declining 1.6% from 8.1% a year earlier to 6.5%. The unemployment rate stood at 6.9% last month. Average since January 2000 is 8.0%.


Los Angeles County (Not Seasonally Adjusted Numbers*)

*NOTE: Detailed county level numbers in the following sections are not seasonally adjusted. This may give rise to large swings from one month to the next. For that reason, this report generally emphasizes year-to-year changes over month-to-month changes, except where the monthly changes are noteworthy.


The Los Angeles labor market continued to improve on a year-to-year basis.

  • The unemployment rate fell from 8.1% a year earlier to 6.2%, and was down from 7.0% in August.
  • The county added 85,000 wage and salary jobs from September 2014 to September 2015, a 2.0% increase.
  • Job gains occurred in most major industries, led by
    • Health care and social assistance (24,100, +3.8%)
    • Leisure and hospitality (19,400, +4.1%)
    • Professional, scientific, and technical services (8,100, +2.9%)
  • The largest year-to-year percentage increases occurred in:
    • Construction (5.5%)
    • Leisure & hospitality (4.1%)
    • Health care and social assistance (3.8%)
  • Job losses occurred in Finance and Insurance, Manufacturing, Information, and Mining and Logging.
  • In the Goods Movement Sector, Transportation and Warehousing employment rose by 4,000 jobs and Wholesale Trade added 7,100 jobs year-to-year, for a combined increase of 11,100 jobs (+3.0%).
  • Employment services fell by 300 jobs over the year, marking the 7th month in the last 10 when employment services fell. This followed a three year period (November 2012 through November 2014) when employment services reported an uninterrupted string of increases. Declines in this series in recent months may be indirect evidence that firms are hiring more employees on a full-time basis, reflecting the national trend.
  • Entertainment Industry Employment:
    • Employment in the Motion Picture & Sound Recording industry was 117,700 in September, decreasing by 3,200 jobs (-2.6%) from employment of 120,900 in September of last year.
    • In monthly terms, Motion Picture and Sound Recording fell by 400 jobs.
  • Employment in the industry follows a seasonal pattern, with a sharp drop in January followed by a rebound over the next two months to a peak in March, then leveling off or pulling back over the following months and surging to another peak late in the year.
    • By comparison, at the national level this industry added jobs year-to-year, going from 388,700 in September 2014 to 394,600 in September 2015, a 1.5% increase. Motion Picture and Sound Recording jobs in LA County accounted for 31% of the nation’s jobs in this industry, about the same as in recent years.
    • The Broadcasting industry gained 900 jobs (+4.4%).


Southern California Counties (Not Seasonally Adjusted Numbers*)

Current Month: September 2015

Metro Area
Last Yr
U-Rate %
Last Month
U-Rate %
Current Month
U-Rate %
  Change in Nonfarm Jobs
Orange County 5.3 4.5 4.0   +44,900 or +3.0%
Inland Empire 7.8 6.8 6.1   +36,300 or +2.8%
Ventura County 6.6 5.8 5.3   +4,400 or +1.5%

NOTE: Unadjusted unemployment rates often increase during the summer. For example, in the past ten years, California’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has increased by an average of 0.5% in August and 0.4% in September.


Orange County:

  • Leaders:
    • Health Care and Social Assistance (7,100 jobs or +4.3%)
    • Leisure and Hospitality (7,000 jobs or +3.6%)
    • Government (6,300 or 4.2%)
  • Job Losses: Information, Finance and insurance, and administrative & support & waste services
  • Other: Construction (+5,200 jobs), while Manufacturing and Professional Scientific and Technical Services each added 5,100 jobs.


Riverside/San Bernardino:

  • Leaders:
    • Leisure and Hospitality (6,000 jobs, +4.2%)
    • Administrative, Support, and Waste Services (5,400 or 5.9%)
    • Government (4,900 jobs, +2.2%)
  • Other: Manufacturing (+4,400 jobs) and Construction (+3,700 jobs).
  • Goods movement continued its streak of growth, with a gain of 7,500 jobs (+2,900 in Transportation/Warehousing and +4,600 in Wholesale Trade), a 5.2% year-to-year gain.
  • Job Losses: Mining and Logging, Other Services, Retail trade, and Health care and social assistance

Ventura County:

  • Leaders:
    • Professional, Scientific & Technical Services (2,300 jobs or +14.4%)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (800 jobs or 2.2%)


  • Retail Trade and Administrative & support & waste services both added 600 jobs
  • Job Losses: Mining and Logging, Manufacturing, Leisure and Hospitality, and Education and Health Services


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