Orange County Business Journal

Unemployment Rate Drops on Gain of 9,500 Jobs

Jane Yu Friday, October 19, 2012

Orange County employers hired 9,500 workers in September after cutting jobs for two months straight. The unemployment rate here was 7.1% last month, down from a revised 7.7% in August and 8.7% a year ago.

Orange County now has 1,390,900 jobs, according to the state Employment Development Dept.

Government saw the largest monthly gain, with 6,700 new workers, primarily for schools that began fall classes. Local government education brought on 7,500 employees, offsetting losses in other areas.

Government had seen the largest declines in the two previous months, cutting 13,200 jobs in July and 5,100 in August, mostly due to summer recess in schools.

The sector now has 139,200 jobs, about 3% fewer than a year earlier.

The education and health services sector added 2,800 jobs in September, after cutting 2,500 in August. More than 85% of the recent increase came from new jobs in healthcare and social assistance, including ambulatory services and residential care.

Leisure and hospitality registered 1,300 new jobs last month. Layoffs in amusement, gambling and recreation were offset by an addition of 1,600 jobs in food services and drinking places.

The leisure and hospitality sector has gained more than 10,000 jobs over the past year, notching a 6% gain for a total of 185,400 jobs.

The financial activities sector posted an increase of 800 jobs in September, to 108,800 total. The sector has gained nearly 6,000 jobs over the past year, with about 78% of the year-over-year gains in real estate-related services.

Construction continued hiring last month, when it added 200 jobs after adding 1,900 in August. The sector now has 69,600 jobs, ahead of last year by 1,700.

Professional and business services lost 200 jobs last month. It remains the largest sector in the county with 253,800 workers, about 4,300, or 1.7%, more than a year ago.

The manufacturing sector also cut 100 workers in September, following a decrease in work force by 900 in August. The drops have pushed the sector’s total job count to 153,600, about 1% below last year’s.

Trade, transportation and utilities lost 100 jobs last month. The sector still has 5,200 more jobs compared with a year earlier, with 252,800.

Statewide unemployment was 9.7% last month, down from 10.4% in August and 11.5% from last September.

The rate was 7.6% for the U.S., down from 8.2% in August and 8.8% a year earlier.