Orange County Business Journal

OC Jobless Rate Inches Up to 7.5%

Jane Yu Friday, June 15, 2012

The unemployment rate in Orange County ticked up in May despite an increase of 5,900 jobs.

The rate was 7.5% compared with a revised reading of 7.4% in April and 8.5% last May.

Last month’s job growth followed an increase of 3,300 jobs in April. The county has continued to add jobs for four months straight, after dropping 30,000 in January.

Orange County now counts 1,392,900 jobs, according to the state Employment Development Department. That’s 25,800 more than the same time a year ago.

The largest increase for the month came from the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 3,400 jobs as staffing firmed up for the summer tourist season. Accommodation and food services made up nearly 60% of the growth.

There were 181,500 leisure and hospitality jobs for a gain of 7,300 jobs since May 2011.

Construction added 1,700 jobs last month, bouncing back from a decline of 1,600 in April. More than 70% of the gain came from construction of buildings. The overall sector counted 65,300 jobs, down by 3,600 from a year earlier.

The professional and business services sector grew by 1,100 jobs in May. It had the largest year-to-year increase—at 12,300 jobs—and a total of 255,200 jobs. Administrative and support services, including temporary-help firms, helped boost the total.

Trade, transportation and utilities added 600 jobs last month. It has added almost 7,000 jobs throughout the year and had 250,200 jobs in May, accounting for 18% of the OC work force.

Education and health services had the largest monthly decline, losing 800 positions. The sector had posted the largest increase in April, when it expanded by 1,500 jobs. About 63% of May’s decrease came from job cuts in ambulatory health care services.

Education and health services had 161,500 throughout the county in total in May, up 1,900 from a year earlier.

Manufacturing cut 500 workers. It’s been cutting jobs for three-straight months in small chunks after adding 2,500 in February. The sector still counts 1,900 more jobs compared with a year earlier, a total of 154,700.

The unemployment level in California fell to 10.4% from 10.5% in April and 11.4% a year earlier.

The U.S. rate was 7.9% last month, up from 7.7% in April and down from 8.7% a year ago.