State, LA County and Inland Empire see job growth in April



California employers accelerated their hiring in April with 59,600 new jobs and the state’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.3 percent, its lowest level since June 2007, according to figures released Friday from the state Employment Development Department.

California leads nation in job growth

Year over year, California led the nation by adding 450,200 jobs at a rate of 2.8 percent. That far outpaced Florida, which ranked second with an annual gain of 254,500 jobs, and Texas, which added 189,600 over the past 12 months.

Economist Christopher Thornberg, a founding partner with Beacon Economics, put that into perspective.

“We’re bigger than Florida and Texas combined,” Thornberg said. “It seems that every time the U.S. economy starts to get going we get a punch in the gut from something, but through all of that we’ve managed to keep a decent head of steam.”

California has added nearly 2.2 million jobs since the state’s recovery began in February 2010.

April’s hiring boost far outpaced the previous month when a scant 4,200 jobs were added. And last month’s jobless rate of 5.3 percent was down from 5.4 percent in March and 6.5 percent a year earlier, the EDD reported.

L.A. County adds 106,8000 jobs year over year

Los Angeles County added 15,900 jobs in April compared with the 12,800 that were added the month before. The county boosted its payrolls by 106,800 jobs over the past year at a rate of 2.5 percent.

L.A. County’s unemployment rate for April was 5.1 percent, down from 5.4 percent in March and 7.2 percent a year earlier.

The county’s biggest employment gain for April came in professional and business services, which added 4,300 jobs. Ninety-five percent of that growth was in temporary placement services.

People are more willing to jump from job to job

That didn’t surprise Janet Zitron, who heads up the Southern California region for the personnel services firm Wollborg/Michelson.

“With the employment gap closing and lower unemployment numbers businesses are seeing a need for both temporary and direct hiring,” she said. “With the unemployment rate being so much lower than it was, there isn’t as big a pool of candidates out there now.”

Zitron said the labor market has firmed up to the point where more people are willing to jump from one job to another.

“People used to be in fear about that and they would hold onto their jobs for dear life — they just didn’t want to take a chance,” she said. “But people are now able to make moves because the job market is stronger.”

L.A. County saw other notable employment increases last month in trade, transportation and utilities (2,800 jobs), construction (1,800), educational and health services (1,500) and financial activities (1,400).

Manufacturing industry still posting losses

Manufacturing shed 900 jobs and government lost 800 positions.

Warren Walker, who used to run a full-time sheet metal company in Rancho Cucamonga, said he got of the business because of the state’s costly fees, taxes and environmental mandates. And other manufacturing firms are facing the same issues.

“California has such a toxic business environment that we couldn’t do it,” he said. “And you can’t find anyone who is trainable to do sheet metal work. I went through about 20 high school kids and most of them couldn’t read a tape measure. They’d go off to the bathroom and be texting.”

Vantage LED — an Ontario-based company that makes LED screens ranging from small to the large kinds of digital signs visitors see in Las Vegas — has a different take on the situation.

“We’re growing and we’re looking to scale up more,” said Ivan Perez, the company’s director of resource development. “Right now we have about 85 employees, but next quarter I plan to hire 10 to 12 more. And if we meet our quarterly goals we’ll go higher than that.”

L.A. County’s manufacturing sector lost 6,400 jobs over the past year, according to EDD figures.

Inland Empire adds 43,500 jobs over the year

Looking further east, the Inland Empire added 3,100 jobs in April compared with the 8,100 that were added in March. Year over year, the two-county region added 43,500 jobs, which also fell slightly short of the annual gain of 45,400 jobs posted the previous month.

The Inland Empire’s unemployment rate for April was 5.6 percent, down from 5.8 percent in March and 6.4 percent a year earlier.

Last month’s biggest gain of 1,000 jobs came in the category labeled “other services,” which includes repair and maintenance businesses and personal and laundry services.

Trade, transportation and utilities added another 900 jobs and government employment also increased by 900 jobs. Additional gains were seen in professional and business services, educational and health services and construction, among other industries.

Leisure and hospitality saw the biggest decrease with a loss of 700 jobs.


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