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O.C.'s November unemployment sees some improvement

Decline in the local unemployment rate can be attributed to seasonal hiring

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: December 19, 2011 10:10 AM

The Orange County jobless rate in November declined slightly, according to a report from California’s Employment Development Dept. The local unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, down from a revised 8.5 percent in October. Taken overall, the current rate is an improvement over the department’s previous estimate of a November unemployment rate of 9.4 percent.

The local job market saw an overall decline of 2,500 jobs from October, likely due to a number of jobseekers taking time off from the search during the holidays. A number of sectors also posted declines in the period; administrative and support services posted a loss of 1,800 positions, followed by professional and business services, which lost 1,200 jobs. Several other sectors also posted declines.

However, seasonal hiring made up for much of the decline. The highest gains were seen in the areas of retail and food services, sectors that usually increase staff with temporary positions during the holiday shopping season. The overall category of trade, transportation and utilities gained 4,400 jobs in November, with boosts in the area of retail trade accounting for more than 80 percent of the gain.

Despite the improvement over the Employment Development Dept.’s projected unemployment rate for November, Chapman University economist Esmael Adibi says the current numbers are not a sign of a strengthening job market.  

“You can’t paint this as good, especially after last month,” Adibi told the O.C. Register, referring to October’s employment numbers, which were strong in a number of sectors.

While Orange County came out ahead over November 2010, gaining 13,000 jobs compared to the same time last year, that number also fell, when compared to October’s year-over-year gain of 20,000 jobs.

Adibi added that monthly swings like these are not indicative of a stable job market. “It looks like the labor market is not really on a solid path.”

During the same period, California’s unemployment rate measured 10.9 percent, and the nation’s overall unemployment came in at 8.2 percent.

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