The unemployment rate in Long Beach and across Los Angeles County continued to rise for the second month in a row in February, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department on Friday.
The city’s unemployment rate increased from 5% to 5.2% from January to February after dipping to a four-year low of 4.4% in December. Last month, the city’s labor force grew by 2,500 people, while the number of employed residents grew by only 1,800. As a result, the number of unemployed residents grew from 11,500 to 12,200 month-over-month.
The county, overall, saw the same trend, with labor force growth pacing ahead of employment, resulting in the number of unemployed residents increasing from 246,000 to 265,200. The county’s unemployment rate grew from 4.9% to 5.3% month-over-month.
This is the first time in at least three years that Long Beach has had a lower unemployment rate than the county, according to state data. Only twice since the beginning of 2020 has the city had the same unemployment rate as the county.
In January 2021, the gap in the city and county employment rate grew to 1.5 percentage points, when Long Beach had a rate of 14.2% compared to the county’s 12.7%.
Despite the shake-up, Long Beach unemployment remains higher than 57% of the county’s cities and census areas. Ten of those areas—Charter Oak, Cudahy, Culver City, East LA, Glendale, Hawthorne, Maywood, Norwalk, Rowland Heights and Val Verde—now have the same rate as Long Beach.
Private education and health services led all sectors, gaining 12,400 jobs in February, according to the EDD. Health care and social assistance saw an increase of 6,100 jobs, and leisure and hospitality posted an increase of 12,200 jobs split between accommodation and food services, and arts, entertainment and recreation.
Despite the unusually wet start to the year, construction saw the third-largest month-over-month growth, adding 4,800 jobs, the EDD noted.
Trade, transportation and utilities, on the other hand, saw a loss of 2,600 jobs. Transportation, warehousing and utilities, and retail trade losses of 1,300 and 2,200 jobs, respectively, were offset by a gain of 1,300 jobs in wholesale trade.
At the state level, meanwhile, unemployment increased from 4.6% to 4.8%, according to the EDD. The California Center for Jobs and the Economy stated nonfarm jobs showed strong gains of 32,300 jobs. Overall, nonfarm jobs were 1.7% ahead of the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020.
The number of employed California residents, however, has essentially been level since May of last year, the center stated.
As of February, the state has recovered all of the jobs lost in March and April 2020 as a result of the pandemic, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics. Over the past year, the state increased payrolls by 2.8%, compared to national payrolls increasing 2.9%.
The state labor supply crew by 21,200 in February, according to Beacon, but remains 1.3% below February 2020.
“California’s labor market has performed well so far this year, but there continues to be more job openings in the state than there are workers to fill these positions,” Taner Osman, research manager at Beacon and the UC Riverside Center for Economic Forecasting. “The labor shortage that employers are facing continues to be a stubborn drag on job growth in the state.”