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Orange County maintains employment levels in July

A loss of jobs during the period attributed to seasonal education cutbacks

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: August 17, 2012 03:30 PM

Orange County saw an overall decline in jobs during July, but the region’s unemployment rate remained the same from the previous month, according to the California Employment Development Department. Currently, O.C.’s unemployment sits at 7.9 percent, after losing 12,700 jobs in July. The current jobless rate for the state is 10.7 percent and the country, 8.3 percent (both rates adjusted for seasonality).

However, Orange County’s July performance is favorable compared to the previous month, when the county added jobs, but the unemployment rate increased from 7.5 percent in May to 7.9 percent in June.

Dr. Wallace Walrod, chief economic advisor to the Orange County Business Council, says that the current trends are on par for positive growth in 2012. “We had really robust growth in the first six months and we’ll slow a little bit in the rest of the year, but overall we’ll see positive growth for the second half of 2012, especially in the private sector.”

June’s largest loss in jobs came from the government sector, which posted a decline of 13,200 jobs. All of those positions came from government education and training departments, both local and state, due to seasonal cutbacks during the summer recess.

For monthly gains, leisure and hospitality rose by 900 jobs, the largest increase during the month. The travel and tourism industry in Orange County has seen the largest overall growth over the summer, with the sector leading every other industry in job increases for the past three months.

“Tourism in Orange County is really doing fantastic, it’s been a great summer for business and job creation and I think that may continue very strongly through the rest of the year,” Dr. Walrod said

When asked whether Orange County’s burgeoning tourism over the summer could indicate that people are feeling more confident about discretionary spending, Dr. Walrod said that it might partially be the case.

“But Orange County has made a lot of investments in tourism in the last few years and that’s starting to pay dividends. So now we have international flights out of John Wayne Airport, Disney’s new Cars Land looks like it’s been a major success, our resorts along the coast are seeing a much higher occupancy rate; so word’s getting out that O.C. is a great place to visit.”

Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm employment increased by 2 percent in Orange County, with leisure and hospitality at the forefront, reporting a gain of 8,900 jobs. A little more than half of that growth was in the accommodation and food services industry. Professional and business services has added 8,200 jobs in the past twelve months, with 73 percent of those positions coming from administrative and support services.

At the state level, California added 25,200 jobs in July, the largest monthly gain in the country for the period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, California is lagging behind the rest of the country as the state with the third-highest unemployment, after Nevada (12.0 percent) and Rhode Island (10.8 percent). The state with the lowest jobless rate is currently North Dakota at 3.0 percent.

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