Unemployment Rate Lowest Since Pandemic’s Start

First published in the Nov. 5 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

South Pasadena’s unemployment rate dropped to 6% in September, according to preliminary state data, the lowest mark for the statistic since March 2020.
The decline in the city’s unemployment rate from August to September, according to recently released information from the California Employment Development Department, also currently seems to be the steepest one-month decrease in the statistic by percentage points since August 2020. The decline appears partially a result of the ongoing hiring of school staff as the academic year began; much of the job gains in Los Angeles County last month were in the educational sector, the EDD reported.

That could help explain why the county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate — which takes annual job market trends into account — decreased only slightly from 10.1% to 9.8% in September, while its unadjusted rate fell from 9.7% in August to 8.2% in September.
The EDD, which only provides seasonally unadjusted data on the city level, estimated that about 900 South Pasadena residents remained unemployed in September, down from roughly 1,200 in August. Accordingly, the city’s employment estimate rose from 13,300 to 13,600. But the labor force — reflecting the estimated number of citizens who are employed or looking for work — decreased by 100.
Mirroring trends across the county and state, South Pasadena’s unemployment rate had improved little since February, hovering around 7% and 8% for the past several months. While September’s estimate shows a notable decrease in the rate, the statistic remained higher than the city’s pre-pandemic figure of 4.4%. South Pasadena’s highest pandemic-era unemployment rate was in May 2020, at 14.9%.
The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate in September was 4.8%, down from 5.2% in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While L.A. County’s seasonally adjusted rate fell less dramatically last month than its unadjusted statistic, September marked the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that the statistic dropped below double-digits. Still, more than 500,000 county residents remained unemployed last month, according to the EDD’s adjusted estimate. The county’s September 2019 unemployment rate was 4.5%, representing roughly 235,000 people.
The EDD’s data was gathered during the week of Sept. 12, according to the department, not long after the federal benefits expired. California’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate fell from 7.5% in August to 6.4% in September, but the adjusted estimate remained flat at 7.5% despite a minor increase in statewide employment. Despite improvements, the unemployment rate for Black and Hispanic residents remained relatively elevated, at 7.9% and 6.3% respectively.