Orange County Business Journal

OC’s Jobless Rate Falls to 7%

Jane Yu Friday, December 21, 2012

Orange County added 3,000 jobs in November, driving the local unemployment rate down to 7% from 7.2% in October and 8.1% from a year ago.

That compares with a jobless rate of 9.6% for California and a nationwide rate of 7.4% for November, according to the state Employment Development Department.

Orange County now has 1,407,600 jobs, a 1% uptick from a year ago.

November’s increase was driven largely by an increase in retail trade, which added 4,600 workers for seasonal hiring.

Wholesale trade offset some of those gains by cutting 900 jobs. The overall trade, transportation and utilities sector now has 258,000 jobs total, making up about 18% of the OC work force. The sector has grown about 2% over the past year.

Government contributed to November’s gains by adding 1,300 jobs. It accounts for 145,700 workers in OC, nearly 6% lower than its total a year earlier. Local government accounted for all of the increase and some more, adding 1,400 jobs. State government lost 100.

Education and health services hired 500 workers last month, pushing the sector total to 163,000. That’s about a 2% growth from last year. About 80% of November’s increase came from educational services.

The professional services sector, which is the largest segment of employment in OC with 258,000 jobs, gained 100 last month. The sector has boosted jobs by about 2.4% over the past year.

Leisure and hospitality lost 1,000 jobs here, with all the loss coming from the arts, entertainment and recreation cluster. The sector still is ahead of the year-ago employment count by 7,100—or 4%—for a total of 182,200.

OC’s manufacturing companies contracted by 600 jobs in November. Manufacturing companies collectively have 153,100 jobs now, about 1% lower than a year ago.

Construction saw a decline of 400 jobs to 70,000. It has grown nearly 4% since last November and makes up for about 5% of the overall OC work force.