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O.C. unemployment down in August

The county has added 29,000 new jobs over the last 12 months

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: September 21, 2012 02:05 PM

Orange County’s unemployment rate fell in August, although the county saw a decline in the number of jobs from July. Locally, the area shed 5,200 in August from July. The current unemployment rate in O.C. is 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in July. This compares with a national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent and 10.4 for California.

The decline in the unemployment rate despite a month-over-month jobs loss is accounted for by a nearly 1 percent dip in the local labor force; the cause is typically job seekers turning away from their search.

In the month’s job losses, government was the largest decline, shedding 5,100 jobs. Dr. Wallace Walrod, chief economic advisor to the Orange County Business Council, says these losses are easily accounted for.

 “The job losses all came from government, and those are all seasonal and they’re all from local government education. They’ll be added back in when school starts up again in the fall,” Dr. Walrod said. “Basically it was a flat month, if you take that out.”

Education and health services also saw a drop, declining by 2,500 jobs over the month. Like the government positions, those jobs are likely to be replaced in the fall, Dr. Walrod said.

The county added 29,000 jobs over the past 12 months, a gain of 2.1 percent. Local industries to see growth included leisure and hospitality, with 9,100 new jobs coming mainly from gains in accommodation and food services and dining and beverage establishments.

The area to see the largest growth over the period was professional and business services, which added 10,600 jobs. Dr. Walrod commented that one sector that has seen significant success over the past year is financial activities.

“Very quietly, financial services has put in a pretty good year-over-year number,” he said. “That’s a sector that was really hit hard in the recession, and now it’s coming back. Financial services gained almost 5,000 jobs over the last 12 months. That would be the fourth highest job growth sector during the period.”

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