After falling below pre-pandemic levels during the last four months of 2022, the unemployment rate in Long Beach and across Los Angeles County jumped in January, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department on Wednesday.
The data was initially slated to be released March 10, but it was delayed due to technical issues, according to the department.
In Long Beach, the rate jumped from 4.4% in December—a four-year low—to 5% in January. Prior to mass layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic, Long Beach unemployment reached a low of 4.8% before rising quickly to 19%.
Long Beach’s unemployment rate hit a historic low of 4% in April 2019.
The city’s labor force in January increased by 2,600 people to 230,600, while the number of employed residents increased by only 1,200 to 219,100. The net result was a 1,400-person increase in unemployed residents, to 11,500.
The county saw a similar trend, with the labor force growing by 57,600 to 4,985,200 and the number of employed residents increasing by 27,100 to 4,739,300. The net result was an unemployment rate increase from 4.4% to 4.9%—up 35,000 to 246,000 unemployed residents.
Of the county’s 124 cities and census designated places, 82 (66%) have a lower unemployment rate than Long Beach. Only 35 have a higher unemployment rate.
Six other cities—Altadena, Culver City, LA, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates and South Gate—have the same unemployment rate as Long Beach.
The total nonfarm employment countywide decreased by 51,800, according to the EDD, which is the lowest month-over decrease between December and January since recording began in 1990. The figure is well below the 2011-2020 average of 86,100, the department stated.
Trade, transportation and utilities saw the largest decrease of any sector, losing 17,100 jobs, according to the EDD. The vast majority—67%—of jobs lost were in retail. Information and professional and business services also posted significant losses.
The government sector added 2,700 jobs in LA County, according to the EDD. Private education and health services also added jobs.
The state, meanwhile, saw an even larger increase in unemployment, EDD data shows—up to 4.6% from 3.7%.
Accountable.US, a nonprofit watchdog group, warned in February that continued interest rate hikes are “reckless” and could push the country into a recession that leads to millions of layoffs.
“It’s simple: the more the [Federal Reserve] embraces job-killing rate hikes that disproportionately hurt low-income workers and struggling mom-and-pop shops, the more the Fed will roll back this great economic progress,” Liz Zelnick, director of economic security and corporate power for the group, said in a statement.
“Ignoring the voices of their own economists in favor of Wall Street is not smart policy,” Zelnick added. “It’s the Fed’s selfish way of asking Americans to sacrifice their financial security on behalf of special interests.”
Earlier this month, the organization noted that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress interest rates are “likely to be higher” than previously expected, which Accountable.US says would “stop economic momentum,” including slowing wage growth and declining demand for U.S. manufacturing.