Calif. jobless rate falls slightly to 12.4 percent |

Calif. jobless rate falls slightly to 12.4 percent

Marcus Wohlsen
Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California’s jobless rate fell slightly to 12.4 percent in May, but the figure is still higher than state unemployment numbers for the same time a year ago, according to state Employment Development Department data released Friday.

The figures showed a 0.1 percentage point drop compared with April’s revised rate of 12.5 percent. Still, the decline leaves California far from a recovery. Unemployment in the state was at 11.3 percent in May 2009, which was a record high at the time. The current record stands at 12.6 percent, a milestone reached in March.

About 2.3 million Californians remained out of work last month – 212,000 more than a year earlier.

California now has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country behind Nevada and Michigan. National unemployment, meanwhile, dipped to 9.7 percent last month from 9.9 percent in April.

For the fifth straight month, the number of new jobs in California grew, with more than 28,000 non-farm payroll positions added last month. Since Jan. 1, the state has added more than 84,000 new jobs.

The gains are nevertheless disappointing, since most new jobs created in recent months were temporary U.S. Census worker positions, said analyst Steve Levy of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

“The state matches the national picture of expanding production and trade with very little private sector job growth,” Levy said.

State industries that saw small gains in May include information; leisure and hospitality; manufacturing; and professional and business services.

The construction; trade and transportation; financial; and education sectors all posted job losses.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the decline in the unemployment rate “welcome news” but said the pace of private sector job growth needs to accelerate.

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