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Unemployment rises locally

Experts suspect the jump is largely a result of seasonal workers being let go.

March 13, 2010|By Zain Shauk

Unemployment rates surged in Burbank and Glendale in January, according to a report released Wednesday by the California Economic Development Department.

The jobless rate in Glendale was 11.5% in January, up from 10.5% in December, and was 10.7% in Burbank, up from 9.8% in a month ago, according to the department’s estimates.

The changes are likely a result of seasonal employment shifts after the holiday season, although job losses in the entertainment industry and other sectors may reflect challenges for the local economy, experts said.

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The local figures were not seasonally adjusted.

While the unadjusted jobless rate for Los Angeles County rose more than a percentage point, to 13.2%, seasonally adjusted rates moved from 12.2% in December to 12.5% in January, according to the report.

The smaller changes in seasonally adjusted countywide rates indicate that changes in retail or other consumer-related employment after the holiday season likely caused the local spikes, said Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.

“I think that’s what’s occurring, because a lot of these retailers for the Christmas season hire people for maybe October and November and then they let a lot of them go,” Nakamoto said.

Still, countywide employment in the motion picture and sound recording industry, the region’s major employer and a significant economic force in Glendale and Burbank, was down 8.2% from its mark in December, with about 10,700 fewer reported jobs.

Those figures did not account for freelancers or independent contractors.

The unexpected job losses in the entertainment industry, at a time when major studios typically create jobs by ordering pilots of new shows, likely contributed to rises in local rates, experts said.

With new opportunities to fill slots in NBC’s prime-time lineup, job growth was expected in the entertainment industry, said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

The percentage increases in unemployment accounted for about 1,900 jobs lost in Glendale and about 500 in Burbank, according to the state Economic Development Department.

Jobless rates in La Cañada Flintridge and the La Crescenta-Montrose area also rose, to 5.2% and 6.5%, respectively, according to the report.

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