For the first time in at least three years, Long Beach’s unemployment rate has dipped to the same level as Los Angeles County, according to state data released Friday.

The city’s unemployment rate dropped to a three-year low of 4.4% in December from 4.6% the month before, data from the California Employment Development Department shows. The county, which has had a lower rate than Long Beach since at least January 2020, dropped from 4.5% to 4.4%.

At both the city and county level, the labor force as well as the number of employed and unemployed residents decreased. In Long Beach, the labor force dropped by 1,100 to 228,000, while the number of employed and unemployed residents fell by 700 and 400, respectively, to 217,900 and 10,100 people.

LA County, meanwhile, saw the labor force decrease by 22,200, the number of employed residents by 16,200 and the number of unemployed residents by 5,900.

After jumping to 4% in November, California’s unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, EDD data shows.

“During [2022], California’s employers added jobs more quickly than was the case in the national economy, but labor shortages in the state dampened job growth toward the end of the year and will continue to be a drag on job growth in 2023,” Taner Osman, research manager at Beacon Economics and the UC Riverside Center for Economic Forecasting, said in a statement.

Statewide, nonfarm employment declined by 7,600 jobs, according to the EDD. With the exception of December 2020 job losses fueled by the rampant spread of COVID-19, “this is the only December job decline since 2008,” the department stated.

Information jobs declined by 8,800 jobs, with 88% of the reduction occurring in motion picture and sound recording. Manufacturing and construction also experienced jobs losses of 4,100 and 2,400, respectively.

Trade, transportation and utilities reported the largest month-over-month increase, adding 5,000 jobs. Retail added 2,500 job,s but the sector’s gains were offset by a loss of 1,200 jobs in wholesale trade.

The national unemployment rate dipped to 3.5% last month, its lowest level in at least a decade. Since 2012, the national rate has not been lower than 3.5%, which it reached in September 2019, January and February 2020 and in July and September of this year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

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