Orange County Business Journal

Unemployment Rate Up as Seasonal Education Dip Offsets Slight Gain on Jobs

Chris Casacchia Friday, July 22, 2011

The county’s unemployment rate rose in June amid seasonal cutbacks in education that offset the private sector's modest rebound from job losses in May.

The unemployment rate hit 9.2% in June, up from a revised 8.5% in May and 9.6% a year ago, according to the state Employment Development Department.

That snapped a two-month streak of unemployment under 9%.

The county gained 2,900 jobs in June from May as employment was relatively flat at 1.36 million nonfarm workers.

Construction, decimated in the downturn and a lingering sore spot in the recovery, added 2,600 jobs in June from May, the biggest increase of any sector for the second consecutive month.

Specialty trade contractors led the gains, accounting for 80% of the growth.

Leisure and hospitality added 1,000 jobs for the month, led by advances in arts, entertainment and recreation as employers ramped up for the summer tourism season.

Professional and business services, a key segment here, added 800 jobs.

Government recorded the largest monthly decline, shedding 1,900 jobs.

The public-sector cutbacks were primarily concentrated in education, due in part to the summer school break.

Employers here accounted from an increase of 4,400 jobs in June compared to a year earlier. The modest increase was the 11th month in a row with a year-over-year gain.

Leisure and hospitality posted the largest yearly growth, adding 7,900 jobs.

Restaurants and bars accounted for 75% of the growth, a continued sign that consumers continue to spend discretionary income.

Educational and health services added 3,700 jobs overall, led by advances in health care and social assistance, which was responsible for 68% of the gains.

Government posted the largest yearly decrease, losing 4,800 jobs.

Cutbacks at the local level accounted for 67% of the yeary decline on government jobs, led by losses in education, down 1,900 jobs, and city government, down 1,200 jobs.

Federal government employment fell by 2,600 jobs.

Those losses more than offset gains in state government, which added 1,000 jobs.

June was the fourth-straight month since the recent recession that government led the yearly decline, a trend that could continue in the coming months.