Unemployment rate rises

DOWNTOWN — Unemployment rates in Glendale and Burbank jumped full percentage points in July, approaching 11% and mirroring a growth in joblessness seen across the region, according to a report released Friday by California’s Economic Development Department.

Higher unemployment was also reported in La Cañada Flintridge and the La Crescenta-Montrose area, although each community’s half a percentage point rate increase did not match growth in Glendale and Burbank, according to the department

The jobless rate rose to 10.9% in Glendale, up from 9.9% in June, and to 10.2% in Burbank, up from 9.2% in the same period, according to the department.

La Cañada Flintridge’s unemployment rate rose to 4.6%, up from 4.1% the month before, and joblessness in the La Crescenta-Montrose area climbed to 5.8%, up from 5.2% in June.

Unemployment in Los Angeles County jumped to 12.5%, but was seasonally adjusted to 11.9%, up from a seasonally adjusted 11.2% in June. California’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was also 11.9%, higher than the national average of 9.4%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Local figures were not seasonally adjusted.

A dearth of entertainment-industry hiring has been the major contributor to rising area joblessness, experts said.

“Locally we have such a strong presence among the studios and a lot of the production companies and post-production companies, and so it’s probably our biggest employer in the Glendale-Burbank region,” said Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.

“Whatever happens to [industry] unemployment has an effect on other businesses that may not be directly related,” Nakamoto said. “So what’s happening in the industry is important for the entire region.”

Countywide motion picture and sound recording employment slipped 1.2% in July and was down 7% from a year ago to 119,700, according to the department.

The field shed 1,300 jobs last month and has dropped a total of 9,000 workers during the last year, according to the report.

Those statistics do not reflect countless private contractors and part-time industry workers who are not working and not reported in company unemployment records submitted to the department, said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

“They don’t show up in these numbers, and we know that they’re hurting,” Kyser said.

That means regional job cuts reported in the entertainment industry are likely even more substantial than they appear to be on paper, he said.

And those job losses account for significant economic activity because so much of the total industry workforce lives and shops in Glendale and Burbank, he said.

“It’s a high multiplier type of activity, meaning that for every job that the state Economic Development Department reports, you’ve got at least two other people in the local economy that are somehow impacted,” Kyser said.

Major motion picture and television studios have continued to locate their productions in other states, draining potential jobs from the local economy and hampering possible job growth, Nakamoto said.

Most businesses have cut back on their hiring and are extending their workforces’ responsibilities amid financial strain brought on by the recession, said Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn.

“It seems that businesses still don’t believe there’s a recovery coming so people are doing more with less,” he said.

That has been the case in the government and education labor forces, which have shrunk to reflect declines in funding, he said.

Lagging construction employment has likely also hurt local economies, with county job ranks in the field shrinking by 12.4%, or about 18,000 jobs, during the last year, he said.

“The entire building industry is at a standstill, and that affects everybody,” said Waldman.

About 800 Glendale workers lost their jobs last month, and about 500 were let go in Burbank. The labor force in Burbank held at 61,100, although in Glendale it shrank by about 200, to 105,900, according to the department.

“No one sees the light at the end of the tunnel yet, and until then, they’re going to continue to be cautious,” Waldman said.


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