Unemployment in Long Beach fell back to a pre-pandemic low of 4.6% last month after small increases in recent months, new data from the California Employment Development Department shows.

After falling for 10 consecutive months, the city’s unemployment rate hit 4.6% in May, which was just below the pre-pandemic low of 4.8% in February 2020. In June, however, the rate jumped back up to 5.3% and remained at 5.2% in July and August.

The decline comes amid minor changes to the city’s overall labor force and number of employed residents. In September, the city’s labor force was 228,900, down only 400 from the month before. The number of employed residents, meanwhile, increased by 900 to 218,300.

The number of unemployed people dropped from 11,800 in August to 10,600 last month, data shows.

Six cities—El Segundo, Los Angeles, Montebello, Paramount, Pomona and South Gate—have the same unemployment rate as Long Beach.

LA County’s unemployment rate as a whole followed the same trend as Long Beach: In May, it reached 4.5%, surpassing a pre-pandemic low of 4.7%. In June, July and August, the rate increased slightly, but fell back to 4.5% last month.

The county labor force decreased by 3,600 people to 4,942,300 from August to September, according to state data, while the number of employed residents jumped by 18,800 to 4,721,500. The number of unemployed residents countywide decreased by 22,300 month-over-month to 220,900.

Long Beach’s unemployment rate remains higher than nearly 68% of Los Angeles County cities and census areas, according to state data. About 27% of areas have a higher unemployment rate.

Countywide, educational services added 8,400 jobs, the most of any sector month-over-month, with students returning to the classroom for the fall semester, according to the EDD. Those gains were led by colleges, universities and professional schools.

Government saw its largest job growth of the year, adding 6,800 jobs, the EDD stated. Local government accounted for 74% of the increase within the sector.

Professional and business services, other services, leisure and hospitality, and financial activities also saw job growth.

Trade, transportation and utilities saw the largest month-over-month decline, losing 2,800 jobs, according to state data. The manufacturing, construction and information industries also saw declines.

Compared to September 2021, nonfarm employment increased by 186,100 jobs, or 4.3%, according to the EDD.

California’s seasonally adjusted unemployment, meanwhile, dropped to 3.9% last month, according to data from Beacon Economics, and remains above the national rate of 3.5%.

“September was a weaker month than what we’ve come to expect this year, with a surprising drop in the state’s labor force,” Taner Osman, research manager at Beacon and the Center for Economic Forecasting, said in a statement. “This suggests that employers will continue to struggle to find workers this year.”

The driving force behind the state’s slower recovery is the chronic labor market shortage, according to Beacon. Since February 2020, the state’s labor force has shrunk by 246,000 people, a 1.3% decline.

The state’s economy has yet to recover all the jobs lost early in the pandemic, the firm stated. There are still 24,700 fewer people employed statewide compared to early 2020.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.