Unemployment Rose Last Month as Workforce Shrunk

Data source: California Employment Development Department

South Pasadena’s unemployment rate saw its first increase in months from November to December, with hundreds of workers leaving the labor force.
The city’s unemployment rate rose from 7.1% in November to 7.4% in December, according to preliminary data from the California Employment Development Department. The rate was still markedly better than Los Angeles County’s figure of 10.7%, which remained flat between the two months, but was the first uptick South Pasadena had seen since May, when it was at a 2020 high of 16.5%.

South Pasadena’s estimated number of unemployed persons — 1,000 — remained the same from November to December, but employment fell from 13,200 workers to 12,900 workers. The decrease appeared to represent a further drop in the city’s labor force, which has been slowly falling since October.
People are not counted in the labor force if they report being unemployed and are not actively seeking a job. South Pasadena’s labor force was an estimated 13,900 people in December — still better than the May low of 13,200, but down from 14,400 in October.
L.A. County saw a similar decrease in its labor force, though drops in both its employment and unemployment figures kept its unemployment rate flat.
The data released by the EDD is not seasonally adjusted, meaning it does not compensate for holidays, changes in weather and other regular factors that influence the workforce.
The EDD reported that the California unemployment rate had increased by about 0.9 percentage points from November to December, the first month-over-month increase in the statistic since April 2020, putting the state’s December unemployment rate at 9%.
Some recent announcements prompted hope for businesses, however. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted a statewide stay-at-home order that prohibited outdoor dining and mandated other restrictions, saying that intensive care units were projected to rise back to healthy capacity levels by late-February. L.A. County officials said they would issue a public health order on Friday scaling back their own restrictions to conform with the state’s.
The state health order, issued in December, limited businesses’ capacities, prohibited most gatherings and required some locations — such as hair and nail salons — to close outright. Officials said the order would only be lifted for regions whose ICU capacities were at 15% or more, but Newsom’s announcement this week allowed counties to ease restrictions immediately.
It was at first unclear whether L.A. County public health officials would allow outdoor dining and other services to resume, as they had made the controversial decision to restrict the practice before the governor issued his order, but officials announced the rollbacks Monday afternoon.