Local unemployment rates drop

Jackson Bell

August brought lower unemployment rates than July throughout Los

Angeles County, but area authorities said the decline in numbers

aren't as straightforward as they seem.

"It is dropping because the number of job seekers is decreasing,"

said Bill Freed, the labor market specialist for California's

Employment Development Department. "It's very possible people have

become discouraged and have stopped looking for work."

Don Nakamoto, a labor market specialist for Glendale, said one of

the main factors is the seasonal differences.

"When people were leaving their jobs during the summer, the rate

spiked up," he said. "But in the August-September period, we'll see

it go down to pre-June levels."

The county's unemployment rate declined from 6.8% to 6.4% between

July and August. Locally, Burbank's rate decreased from 5.2% to 4.7%

and Glendale reduced its rate from 7.1% to 6.4%. But despite the

decrease in the unemployment rate, the county's labor force dropped

from 4,952,800 in July to 4,875,100 in August. Burbank went from

57,650 in July to 56,880 in August, while Glendale dipped from

102,160 to 100,600.

In comparison, Burbank's labor force and unemployment rate of

August 2001 were 57,388 and 4.2%, respectively. August 2000 numbers

were 56,334 and 3.9%.

Nakamoto and Freed said businesses are cautious and usually

reluctant to hire until the economy proves itself to be more stable.

"Even though the economy appears to be growing, it is growing

slowly and will take awhile to build momentum," Nakamoto said.

And even though the data signifies an improving economy and labor

force, Freed isn't ready to celebrate.

"It doesn't want to make me get up and cheer and break my

champagne glass," he said.

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