California's surging economy added 20,100 jobs in June across a broad spectrum of industries, further trimming the state's unemployment rate to a seven-year low of 6.2%, down from a revised 6.4% the previous month, officials reported Friday.
Orange County's jobless rate edged up slightly, but economists weren't worried, especially since the county added 4,900 new nonfarm jobs to the payrolls last month.
Also, the county's 3.3% rate, up from May's revised 3.2% rate, isn't seasonally adjusted, as the state's rate is. That means the county's numbers reflect the usual summertime drop in teaching jobs and increase in students looking for work. A year earlier, the county's rate for June stood at 4.3%.
The slight increase in the county's rate "is not really a sign of weakness in the economy," said Esmael Adibi, director of Chapman University's Anderson Center for Economic Research. "On the contrary, it shows people are optimistic and are going out and looking for employment."
Orange County's unemployment rate could edge up to 3.5% in July and August, before settling back to around 3.0% after schools reopen in September, Adibi said. Also, the annual job creation rate, at a healthy 2.6% in June, probably will pick up to about 3.0% later this year, he believes.
The county is blessed with a broad-based economic expansion, in which employers generally are adding jobs, Adibi noted.
The number of county jobs in the sectors that produce goods has grown 3.6% in the last year to 275,300, as construction crews, aircraft parts manufacturers and makers of high-tech products boosted their payrolls.
The number of service-related jobs in the county has increased 2.3%, to 948,000, since June 1996.
As in Orange County, more industries statewide are now participating in California's expansion, economists said, even though the number of jobs created in June was modest compared with previous months.
Payroll continued to grow last month in electronics production, services and software, all of which led California's recovery out of recession. But there were also notable gains in once-stalwart industries such as aerospace and Aerospace manufacturing added 800 jobs last month, growing for the ninth straight month, as companies continued to take advantage of the strong commercial aircraft and export markets. Real estate employment also shot up by 2,300, buoyed by a sizzling resale market in Northern California and resurgence in the south.
Figures from the California Employment Development Department also show the state's communications sector widened by 1,000 jobs in June and the finance sector by 600 jobs. Even the insurance industry, which has long been shedding employment through consolidations, added 200 to its payrolls last month.
"The expansion is spreading nicely now to even some of the restructuring industries," said Ted Gibson, economist at the state Department of Finance.
Northern California counties remain ahead of the pack, thanks to the robust high-tech manufacturing base in that region. But Los Angeles County, which accounts for a third of the state's economy, appears to be gaining ground.
The jobless rate in Los Angeles County, which fell sharply in May, dipped again in June, to a seasonally adjusted 6.8% from a revised 6.9% the previous month. Just a year ago, unemployment in the county stood at 8.3%.
"We've made significant gains," said Mike Caplis, the state's job market analyst in Los Angeles.
The motion picture industry has been the big driver for Los Angeles County, although it may be cooling down somewhat. The June data show motion picture employment actually declined by 600 from May, to 144,100, but Caplis attributed that mainly to seasonal factors. On a year-over-year basis, he said, film production payrolls in the county were up by 5,400 jobs, or 3.9%.
Business services, a grouping that includes software firms and temporary-help agencies, also continues to hire briskly in Los Angeles County. That sector added 4,200 jobs between May and June, and total employment is up 6.5% from a year ago.
Overall, nonfarm employment in Los Angeles County rose by a modest 1.4% in June from a year ago, about half the rate of California as a whole.
Statewide, nonfarm employers are on target to add some 400,000 jobs this year, with services (which includes multimedia) and construction leading the way. The gap between California's seasonally adjusted jobless rate and the nation's--which edged up to 5% in June from 4.8%--also is expected to narrow in the coming months.
However, unemployment in Riverside and San Bernardino remains relatively high, a result of that region's growing labor force and the presence of many unemployed workers once tied to the farm industry. The combined jobless rate for the two counties was 7% in June, up from 6.4% in May.
Similarly, Ventura County saw its unemployment rate climb in June, to 5.9% from 5.5%, as did San Diego County, whose rate edged up to 4.4%, from 4.3% in May.