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EMPLOYMENT
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May unemployment sees marginal bump

Despite negligible increase, local economy added jobs last month

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: June 19, 2012 11:45 AM

Despite a slight increase in the local unemployment rate, Orange County added more jobs in May than in the previous month, according to the latest report from the California Employment Development Department. The current local unemployment rate, 7.5 percent, crept up from a revised 7.4 percent in April.

Last month’s 7.5 percent unemployment compares favorably to a state unemployment rate of 10.4 percent and national rate of 7.9 for the same period. The local economy added a total of 6,400 jobs over the month, and 26,400 jobs over the year. The 0.1 percent dip is not a material setback, said Dr. Wallace Walrod, chief economic advisor to the Orange County Business Council.

“The numbers are pretty good,” Dr. Walrod said. “Although the unemployment rate kicked up we created almost seven thousand jobs. That followed several months of job growth and creation so things are looking up in Orange County.”

The largest area of growth during the month was leisure and hospitality, which saw a gain of 3,400 jobs, in anticipation of the summer tourism season. Other areas to see growth included the construction sector (added 1,700 jobs) and professional and business services industry (added 1,100 jobs).

Dr. Walrod described the gain in construction jobs as the report’s “biggest positive surprise,” explaining that it was the largest employment gain in that sector in a long time. Whereas previous job gains in that industry centered mainly in heavy industry construction, May’s numbers appear to be focused more in commercial building, private sector and some home construction.

Biggest losses were seen in education and health services, declining 800 jobs. Other areas to lose ground included manufacturing (losing 500 jobs) and government (300 jobs). The drop in education jobs is to be expected, due to the seasonal summer break.

Year-over-year changes showed the greatest strength in professional and business services, adding 12,300 jobs since May 2011, and leisure and hospitality, with a gain of 7,300. Only two sectors showed an overall decline in the past 12 months: construction, coming up short 3,600 jobs, and government, at 2,300 jobs.


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