Unemployment Rate Shows Slight Improvement

First published in the Oct. 8 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

South Pasadena’s unemployment rate changed a little for the better from July to August, according to recently released data, and reflected a dip in Los Angeles County’s percentage.
The local rate fell from 8.1% to 7.9% in August, preliminary California Employment Development Department data shows. The drop reflected a decrease in the estimated number of unemployed South Pasadena residents from 1,200 in July to 1,100 in August. However, the labor force — representing residents who are either employed or unemployed but searching for a job — similarly fell by 100 people, as did the number of employed citizens.

August is the most recent month for which EDD figures are available.
South Pasadena’s unemployment rate has fluctuated somewhat since February, after dropping sharply from its May 2020 peak of 16.5% and seeing a bump in January 2021 amid a dire COVID-19 wave. The rate has hovered around 7% or 8% for most of this year.
Recent changes in the local 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. But South Pasadena’s rate, like L.A. County’s and California’s, has otherwise remained relatively stagnant despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lifting of capacity limits and many other business restrictions.
South Pasadena’s joblessness rate in August was notably higher than it was prior to the pandemic (3.7% in February 2020), though it represents a substantial improvement over August 2020’s mark — 13.3%.
L.A. County’s unemployment decreased slightly more quickly, with the seasonally unadjusted rate dropping from 10.2% in July to an estimated 9.7% in August after remaining at the former figure for three months; the lower figure would mean that 485,000 residents remained without work. The county’s rate was 4.6% in February 2020 and 16.8% in August 2020.
The state’s rate was similarly stubborn, with the seasonally unadjusted figure dropping from 7.9% in July to 7.5% in August. It was 3.9% in February 2020 and 12.3% in August 2020.
The national unemployment rate in August 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 added 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 more than 104,000 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.”