Jobless rates in Southern California continue to fall, with Orange County leading the pack

Air Force veteran James Baker, 87 from Riverside, receives dialysis treatment by Medical Instrument Technician Patricia Brown (left) and nurse Victor Elias at Loma Linda Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif. Wednesday February 21, 2018. (Staff photo by, Will Lester-Riverside Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Southern California’s job picture continued to brighten in February, as unemployment remained low while Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties added payroll positions at a steady pace.

The region was buoyed by California’s overall growth in prosperity, with the state’s jobless rate ticking down to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent in January, a record low in measurements dating back to 1976. California’s unemployment was 5.1 percent in February last year.

The state created payroll jobs at a healthy 2.3 percent rate over the year, with the fastest growth in health services and construction.

The data, based on surveys of U.S. households and businesses, was released on Friday, March 22 by the California Employment Development Department.

U.S. unemployment was unchanged in February at 4.1 percent.

Joblessness by county

In the four-county region, Orange County’s unemployment was the lowest in February, at 3.1 percent, down from 3.2 percent the month before, and below the year-ago estimate of 3.8 percent.

Joblessness in Los Angeles remained stable at 4.5 percent from January to February and was down from 4.9 percent a year earlier.

The unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in Riverside County, down from 4.7 percent in January. It was 4.3 percent in San Bernardino County, the same as the month before.

Payroll growth by county

Los Angeles bosses added more jobs last month than the other three counties: 23,000 positions for a total of 4,461,100, reflecting the county’s large size. Year-over-year, its payrolls grew by 61,500 jobs, a comparatively sluggish pace of 1.4 percent.

The Inland Empire added a modest 3,300 payroll jobs in February for a total of 1,481,000, but year-over-year the region added 55,600 jobs for a booming spurt of 3.9 percent.

The two-county region’s rapidly growing transportation, warehousing and utilities sector, reflecting the spread of Amazon package delivery hubs, posted the greatest gain: 18,900 jobs.

Orange County added 6,300 jobs in February, and 31,900 year-over-year, for a growth rate of 2 percent. Professional and business services accounted for 8,900 positions over the year, while the healthcare and social assistance sector added 8,600 jobs.

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