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In Statistical Fluke, O.C. Jobless Rate Took Big Drop in November : Unemployment: Despite 1% decline in official estimate, the total number of county jobs is fewer than in November, 1992.

January 01, 1994|JOHN O'DELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Orange County's jobless rate for November dropped to 5.6% from October's 6.6% as 11,000 people were erased from the official estimate of the local labor force in what a state analyst called a statistical glitch.

The big drop is a result of the averaging method used to compute local unemployment each month and was repeated in nearly every county in California.

"It's a one-month anomaly," said Eleanor Jordan, Orange County labor market analyst for the state Employment Development Department. "We always caution people not to rely on a single month's figures to predict a trend."

Still, economists generally expect Orange County's employment situation to improve. The lower November jobless rate "gives a greater level of confidence to our forecasts," said Anil Puri, head of the economics department at Cal State Fullerton.

In a separate report issued Friday, EDD analyst Jordan said that businesses in Orange County added 800 jobs during November. That report counts positions with businesses in the county, while the unemployment rate estimates the number of county residents who have jobs, regardless of where they work.

While the November job increase computed by Jordan certainly is welcome in a recession-ravaged county, the total of 1.1 million full- and part-time jobs still was 16,900 fewer than in November, 1992, when the county's unemployment rate stood at 7.0%.

All of the gains for the latest month came in government and in retail trade, which typically swells in November because of the annual pre-holiday hiring spurt. The increase of 3,300 retailing jobs and 1,700 government positions, however, was nearly offset by the losses of 1,800 jobs in service industries, 1,100 in construction, 800 in manufacturing and 500 in finance, insurance and real estate.

Except for Los Angeles County, where the jobless rate for November was barely changed at 9.4%, other Southern California counties fared as well as or better than Orange County in the month's number-crunching.

The unemployment rate in San Diego County fell to 7.2% from 8.5% for October; Riverside's double-digit jobless rate plunged nearly two full points to 11.8% from October's 13.6%; and San Bernardino County's rate was lopped to 9.2% from 10.7% for October.

The statewide jobless rate for November--released earlier in December--was 8.6%, down from 9.4% for October.

Lower Jobless Rate

Because of a statistical glitch, Orange County's unemployment rate for November fell to 5.6% from October's 6.6%, a decline that was repeated in nearly every county across California. O.C.'s job picture:

Unemployment rate: 5/6--

Jobs: 1,108,400 Source: State Employment Development Dept.

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