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Rise in O.C. Jobless Is No Surprise : Employment: Summer factors--students and teachers between jobs--push figure to 5.9%, up from 5.5% a month ago. But a slide in the manufacturing sector was unexpected.

August 19, 1995|DON LEE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Seasonal factors and cutbacks by manufacturers pushed up Orange County's jobless rate to 5.9% in July, the state employment office reported Friday. But analysts said the local economic recovery remains on track.

The increase in the unemployment rate, from 5.5% in June, was fairly typical for a July, when students swell the ranks of summer job seekers and school teachers are temporarily taken off government payrolls. Employment at local schools declined by 10,500 in July, according to the Employment Development Department.

What wasn't expected, though, was the loss of 900 manufacturing jobs in July. Although factory jobs have been declining for many months, the county recorded back-to-back gains in manufacturing in May and June. But payroll cuts last month at food companies and other non-durable good makers dashed hopes of any immediate recovery in the manufacturing sector.

Still, economists said the latest report indicates that the county is continuing its recovery, albeit at a slower pace. A separate payroll survey by the state's Employment Development Department showed non-farm employment in Orange County totaled 1.13 million in July, up 7,800 jobs from July, 1994.

The number of jobless workers in the county, based on jobless claims and household surveys, rose to 80,900 in July from 72,800 in June.

Despite the monthly gain, Orange County's labor market remained stronger than its neighboring counties. The jobless rate for Los Angeles County was 8.4% in July, and it was 8.5% for San Bernardino, 7.3% for San Diego and 12% for Riverside.

The state's unemployment rate, reported previously, rose to 7.9% last month from 7.6% in June, and nationally unemployment inched up to 5.7% from 5.6%. Unlike the county figures, state and national rates are adjusted for seasonal variations.

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Orange County's jobless rate has been up and down every month this year, but analysts say unemployment may increase again in August. Citing effects from the national economic slowdown, Anil Puri, chairman of the economics department at Cal State Fullerton, predicted: "The current [third} quarter will show somewhat slower growth."

In July, the temporary job cuts at public schools and universities were partly offset by payroll increases in services, which added 900 jobs, mostly at amusement parks.

The construction sector added 400 jobs between June and July, as did transportation and public utilities. City government also added 1,500 summer youth jobs last month.

While factory jobs diminished 1,500 from July, 1994, separate state data indicate that manufacturers are continuing to give more work to their existing employees--in Orange County, employees worked on average 41.8 hours a week in July, up from 40.7 hours a year earlier. Analysts said that suggests factories are getting more orders without hiring new workers.

The county continues to show strong growth in services, which were up 7,200 jobs from a year earlier, many of them in temporary help agencies. The federal government reported Thursday that temporary workers now make up as much as 5% of the nation's work force.

Government payrolls in July were off 2,700 jobs from a year ago, most from cuts in county government, including many resulting from the bankruptcy.

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