Orange County Business Journal

OC Jobless Rate Rose to 8% in January

Jane Yu Friday, March 9, 2012

The unemployment rate ticked up in January as Orange County cut 29,700 jobs across all industries.

Last month’s decline follows four consecutive monthly declines in the local jobless rate. The rate hit 8% in January, up from 7.8% in December but below the year-ago estimate of 9.2%, according to the state Employment Development Department.

The county now has 1.36 million jobs, reflecting a gain of 11,400 over the year.

All industry categories cut jobs, while most of them still count more positions now compared with January 2011.

Trade, transportation and utilities slashed 9,400 jobs, the largest decline over the month of January. More than 8,000 of those were in retail trade. Seasonal cutbacks that followed the holiday season were a factor.

The industry counts 247,600 jobs now, accounting for about 18% of the total work force in Orange County. That’s 2,400 more workers than a year earlier.

Professional and business services cut 5,500 jobs for a total of 249,000.

The industry added 7,000 jobs here over the year, about a 3% gain. Most of the year’s growth came from administrative and support services.

Leisure and hospitality saw a decrease of 2,900 jobs, with more than 60% of the loss in arts, entertainment and recreation.

Year-over-year, the industry added 4,200 jobs. About 80% of the increase was in accommodation and food services.

The government sector cut 3,600 jobs, following a smaller decrease in December. The sector had been adding jobs here for three months previously.

Government saw a 2% drop from a year earlier, one of the three sectors that reported year-over-year declines, affected by January’s job cuts.

Financial activities lost 2,500 jobs in January, a third-straight month of declines. Last month’s change brought the total financial activities jobs to 101,700, about 3% lower than the year-ago tally.

Construction lost 1,400 jobs in January, down to 65,500. It’s been shedding jobs since August, and now counts 700 fewer jobs compared with a year earlier.

California’s overall unemployment rate in January was 11.3%, up from 10.9% in December, and below the 12.7% a year ago.

Nationwide joblessness was 8.8%, up from December’s 8.3% and below a year-earlier estimate of 9.8%.