California employers added 17,600 jobs in May and the state’s year-over-year gain of 242,600 jobs was the second largest in the nation, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
The Golden State was outpaced by Texas, which added 266,600 jobs over the past 12 months. Florida ranked third with 228,000 jobs added and New York followed with 149,100 jobs.
California’s unemployment rate also fell to 4.7 percent in May, tying a record low that occurred in late 2000. May’s unemployment reading was down from 4.8 percent in April and 5.5 percent a year earlier.
Still, one local economist noted that job growth has slowed in California.
“For the second month in a row California’s yearly growth rate dipped below the nation’s,” Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research at Beacon Economics and the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, said in a statement. “While job growth nationally has also slowed, our concern is that California’s job growth will be constrained because we are at full employment, we have insufficient numbers of qualified workers for certain positions, and rising housing costs are increasingly challenging for lower and middle income households.”
Locally, Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire both saw their jobless rates decline. L.A. County’s dipped to 4.4 percent in May compared with 4.5 percent the previous month and the 5.3 percent a year earlier. The Inland Empire’s unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in May, down from 4.7 percent in April and 5.4 percent in May 2016.
But in job creation, the two regions diverged sharply.
L.A. County added 20,300 jobs in May while the Inland Empire shed 300. Year-over-year results were much closer, with L.A. County adding 55,700 jobs at a rate of 1.3 percent, and the Inland Empire adding 41,000 jobs at a rate of 2.9 percent.
“The month-to-month numbers don’t always make a lot of sense,” Inland Empire economist John Husing said. “But the thing I think that’s extraordinary is that the new unemployment rate for the Inland Empire fell, even though more people entered the workforce.”
L.A. County’s biggest gain for the month of May came in leisure and hospitality, which added 6,300 jobs. That was followed by information, which added 4,600. Professional and business services, government, educational and health services, construction and financial activities also posted increases.
But trade, transportation and utilities saw a loss of 1,800 jobs and more declines were seen, including manufacturing, which shed 600 jobs.
The city of El Monte held job fair on Friday with more than 50 employers on hand, including Caltrans, Kaiser Permanente, FedEx and San Gabriel Transit.
“We’re expected to get about 40 to 50 applications today and we might hire 15 to 20 people out of that,” said George Heere, San Gabriel Transit’s operations manager.
Charles Breidenthal attended the event and was looking to land a second job to supplement his income. He currently works at a Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
“Another part-time job is what I’m setting my sights on, but if anything else pops up as far as full-time availability with a career opportunity that would be cool,” the 28-year-old El Monte resident said. “But now I’m really looking toward another part-time position.”
The Inland Empire lost jobs in a variety of industries in May, including educational and health services, professional and business services and manufacturing. But the region’s construction industry added 16,500 jobs between May 2016 and May 2017.
Husing said that increase has been clearly evident.
“Wherever you drive out here they’re building something,” he said. “It isn’t so much houses, but industrial construction. And there is enormous infrastructure going on. I also see a lot of office-type stuff being built. And in Redlands there’s a whole new shopping center going up.”