Drop in Local, County Unemployment Rates Reported

First published in the Sept. 25 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Burbank’s unemployment last month registered the lowest rate this year, according to recently released data, reflecting a sharper decrease than has been seen in the city, state and county in recent months.
The local rate dropped to 10.8% in August from 12% in July, preliminary California Employment Development Department data shows, the biggest one-month decline reported for the city since February. The drop reflected a decrease in the estimated number of unemployed Burbank residents to 6,300 in August from 7,100 a month earlier. However, the local labor force — representing residents who are employed or unemployed but searching for a job — fell by 1,300 people. The number of employed citizens dropped by 500.
Burbank’s unemployment rate has fluctuated somewhat since February, after dropping sharply from its May 2020 peak of 23.9% and another rise in January 2021 amid a dire COVID-19 wave. The rate has hovered around 11% or 12% for most of this year; its lowest mark in 2021 before last month was 11.1% in February.
Recent changes in the local unemployment rate were influenced by the conclusion of the last school year and the beginning of the current academic year; the EDD does not adjust city-level data for seasonal shifts in employment. Los Angeles County’s rate, as well as California’s, has otherwise remained relatively stagnant despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lifting of capacity limits and many other business restrictions.
Despite improvements, Burbank’s unemployment rate last month was still notably higher than it was pre-pandemic (5.1% in February 2020), though it represented a substantial improvement over August 2020’s mark — 18.3%.
L.A. County’s unemployment decreased slightly less quickly, with the seasonally unadjusted rate dropping to an estimated 9.7% in August from 10.2% in July, a figure which had remained the same for three months, reflecting more than 485,000 residents who remained without work. The county’s unemployed rate was 4.6% in February 2020 and 16.8% in August 2020.
The state unemployment rate was similarly stubborn, with the seasonally unadjusted figure dropping to 7.5% in August from 7.9% in July. That rate was 3.9% in February 2020 and 12.3% in August 2020.
The national unemployment rate last month was 5.2%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The EDD reported that the government sector gained the most jobs of any field in L.A. County between July and August, which the department noted is likely due to school resuming. Information jobs, including motion picture and sound recording roles, also saw an increase. The retail industry experienced a slight dip, roughly half a percentage point, in its jobs estimate.
The 104,300 nonfarm jobs California gained in August accounted for 44% of the nation’s overall payroll increases that month, according to the EDD.
“These 104,300 new jobs, the fifth time this year of six-figure job growth, represent new paychecks for Californians and new employees on payroll for businesses,” Newsom said in a statement. “We still have more work to do in regaining those jobs lost to the pandemic, but this is promising progress for California’s economic recovery.”
Despite optimism surrounding the state’s job gains, economists have cautioned that the Delta variant of the coronavirus makes the near future of California’s unemployment rate uncertain. Transmission of the virus, though apparently decreasing, has remained high, with more than 40% of the state still not fully vaccinated.