Orange County Business Journal

OC Adds Jobs, Unemployment Rate Holds at 8%

Jane Yu Friday, March 23, 2012

Orange County added 9,100 jobs in February, a small turnaround after a decline in January.

The unemployment rate was unchanged from 8% the month prior, and fell from 8.9% a year earlier, according to the state Employment Development Department. The additional jobs were enough to offset the typical influx of new job seekers that come with population growth and other factors, keeping the unemployment rate steady.

Orange County now has 1.37 million jobs.

Most industries got back to hiring last month after shedding jobs across the board in January.

Government added 3,400 jobs in February, the largest increase for the month. Gains in local government education helped offset smaller losses in other government sectors.

Government now employs 151,000 here, a drop of about 1% from a year ago.

Manufacturing saw 2,500 more jobs in February and now counts 156,600 jobs. Last month’s increase came after three months of declines.

The sector has added 5,200 more jobs over the past year.

Education and health services added 1,900 jobs in February. Education services accounted for about 84% of the growth.

February’s increase helped boost the number of jobs in education and health services over the year-ago total by 1,300. It now has 160,200 jobs and makes up about 12% of the county's work force.

Leisure and hospitality added 1,200 jobs last month after cutting about 2,900 in January.

The industry employs 5,600 more workers than a year earlier, marking the biggest year-over-year growth. More than half of the increase was in accommodation and food services.

Financial activities added 800 jobs last month, following three consecutive months of declines.

The industry counts 102,800 jobs total, a decrease of 1.5% from a year earlier.

Construction saw job gains in February after a six-month streak of falling employment.

The addition of 200 workers brought the industry total to 65,500 jobs, about 1,300 fewer than a year ago.

The trade, transportation and utilities industry has 1,200 fewer employees than January’s revised total. That came after the industry slashed about 7,000 jobs in January.

The sector has a total of 248,700 jobs now, 5,300 more workers than a year earlier. Retail trading accounted for about 96% of the overall increase.

Professional and business services cut 400 jobs last month for a total of 247,800. That came after the industry shed more than 6,000 jobs in January.

The sector has added 4,900 jobs, a gain of 2%, over the past year.

California’s overall unemployment rate ticked up to 11.4% from 11.3% in January. It’s below the year-earlier mark of 12.3%.

The jobless rate nationwide was 8.7%, slightly down from 8.8% in January. The rate compares with 9.5% a year earlier.