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.