Los Angeles County saw healthy job gains last month but the region’s construction sector posted a loss of 1,600 jobs. (AP File)

By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 12/16/16 – 5:31 PM PST |

California employers added 13,600 jobs in November, marking the weakest showing since March.

That was fewer than half of the 34,400 jobs that were added the previous month but it was still enough to nudge the state’s unemployment rate down to 5.3 percent compared with 5.5 percent the previous month and 5.9 percent a year earlier, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

The last time the state saw a 5.3 percent unemployment rate was in the summer of 2007.

When viewed through a longer lens, California’s employment gains are significant.

The state’s year-over-year increase of 377,200 jobs — added at a rate of 2.3 percent — easily outpaced the rest of the nation. Florida ranked second with 263,900 jobs added over the past 12 months and Texas came in third with 210,800 new jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

“We pretty much stayed on trend here in Southern California,” said Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research at Beacon Economics and at the UC Riverside School of Business Administration’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. “A couple of industries saw job losses but all of the major industries have seen job gains. The big question is what 2017 will look like.”

Kleinhenz said the coming year will likely see moderate growth.

“The pace of job growth this year has been slower than last year and I think we’ll see that pattern continue in 2017 as labor markets tighten,” he said.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire both added more jobs than the state as a whole. That occurs when California’s net job gain (which also figures in total job losses) falls below the net employment gain of an individual county or region.

However, those numbers fall dramatically when seasonally adjusted to account for holiday hiring and other non-permanent positions. But they still show growth.

EDD figures show L.A. County added 22,200 jobs in November, far fewer than the 38,900 that were added the previous month. The county’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent. That was down a full percentage point from the year-ago rate of 6.1 percent.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the county added 2,400 jobs in November, according to figures supplied by Beacon Economics.

Healthy gains were seen in such industries as government, leisure and hospitality, and wholesale trade, but the county’s construction sector posted a loss of 1,600 jobs.

Some Southland construction firms are holding their own, however.

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