Unemployment in County Drops; 4th Month in Row

Times Staff Writer

In its fourth consecutive monthly drop, Orange County’s unemployment rate dipped to 3.7% in January, a one-tenth of a point decline from December.

But unlike earlier periods, the drop in January was primarily the result of updated accounting procedures used by the California Employment Development Department, which has begun to base its employment statistics on the 1980 census instead of the 1970 census.

“It was a month of adjustments,” not really a month of new jobs, said Alta Yetter-Gale, labor market analyst with the department. In fact, total jobs actually declined by 8,600 in January.

Still, the Orange County unemployment rate continued to run well below the Los Angeles rate of 6.6% and the seasonally adjusted rates of 5.8% for California and 6.7% for the United States. Orange County’s unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.


Two counties in Northern California, Marin and San Mateo, posted slightly lower unemployment rates than Orange County for January, at 3.6%.

Orange County’s biggest job gains for the month were in the wholesale trade sector, which includes more than 3,000 grocery store employees who returned to work after a prolonged strike. There were also slight gains in the agricultural sector, as the strawberry harvest began.

But there were some substantial seasonal job losses, particularly in the retail sector, which lost 7,100 jobs in January as temporary holiday sales workers were let go. Also, factory employment was trimmed by 1,300 during the month. And the service industry also reported a monthly drop as local amusement attractions and some hotels laid off employees who were hired to work over the holidays.