LA County job growth barely budged last year, but Inland Empire boomed



California posted the nation’s second biggest year-over-year employment gain in April and the state’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent — its lowest reading since 2001, according to figures released Friday by the Employment Development Department.

“It’s great to see that the statewide unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest point in 16 years,” Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research at Beacon Economics, said in a statement. “However, we are seeing a weaker pace of wage and salary job growth this year, which is to be expected when the economy is essentially at full employment.”

Kleinhenz figures April’s employment losses will be revised downward in the future.

The Golden State saw an annual increase of 236,700 jobs, landing just behind Texas, which added 258,900. Florida followed with 215,400 new jobs and Georgia added 113,600. At the opposite end of the scale, Alaska shed 7,200 jobs over the past 12 months.

California lost 16,300 jobs in April in contrast to a revised gain of 22,800 jobs that were added the previous month. April’s unemployment rate of 4.8 percent was down from 4.9 percent in March and 5.5 percent a year earlier, the EDD reported. That’s trending slightly higher than the U.S. unemployment rate for April, which was 4.4 percent.

Locally, jobless rates declined in both Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire with L.A. County barely outpacing the two-county region in annual employment growth.

L.A. County saw a year-over-year increase of 44,600 jobs that were added at an anemic rate of 1 percent. The Inland Empire added 43,300 jobs over the year at a more robust rate of 3.1 percent.

L.A. County lost 7,300 jobs in April but its unemployment rate dipped to 4.5 percent compared with 4.6 percent in March and 5.3 percent a year ago.

The county’s biggest gain for April came in leisure and hospitality, which added 4,900 jobs. Construction added another 2,600 jobs, boosted primarily by increased work for specialty trade contractors, such as electricians, plumbers and roofers.

Heavy job losses were seen in professional and business services (5,500), government (4,200), information (2,300) and manufacturing (900) among other industries. The county lost 5,400 manufacturing jobs over the past year, but that hasn’t impacted Design Deluxe Manufacturing in Canoga Park.

“We make wheel spacers,” said Jordan Fiske, a sales representative with the company. “People use those when they want to put bigger wheels on their trucks. It provides more clearance between the wheel and axle when you’re turning. We’ve been doing pretty good for the past five years or so. A lot of our sales are out of Texas. Those are the guys who really like trucks. They’re mainly commercial vehicles that are used to haul heavy stuff around.”

The Inland Empire added 2,700 jobs in April, fueled primarily by a gain of 4,000 jobs in construction. Specialty trade contractors accounted for 77 percent of that increase. Other sectors that posted gains included trade and transportation (700), educational and health services (700) and “other” services (100), which includes repair and maintenance and laundry service.

Manufacturing saw the biggest cutback with a loss of 1,100 jobs.

But like Design Deluxe, Trident Case in Chino is bucking the trend. Trident, which has a 35,000-square-foot production facility n Rancho Cucamonga, recently landed a deal to sell its cell phone cases in more than 3,800 Wal-Mart stores across the country.

That necessitated the hiring of 40 more employees.

“We’re proud to be an American company and we keep our growth and support within the community as much as we can,” Tyler Knowles, the company’s marketing manager, said recently. “We also sell our products through Best Buy and to the government and school districts.”


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