California unemployment rate edges downward in October

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California’s unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 11.7% in October as the state created 25,700 new jobs, the Employment Development Department reported. The agency also reported Friday that it had revised job growth in September upward, to 39,200, from about 12,000.

The national unemployment rate for October was 9%.

The slow-but-steady improvement, economists said, provides solid evidence that California is growing faster than the nation as a whole and is not in danger of plunging into a double-dip recession.


CHART: California jobless rate, October

In the last year, the Golden State posted a net jump of 239,000 jobs, a jump of 1.7%, from October 2010, when unemployment peaked at 12.5%. The national increase was 1.2%.

“We’re seeing job growth headed in the right direction, except it’s at one very small step at a time,” said Kimberly Ritter, associate economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Statewide, seven categories of employment showed growth in October: construction, information, financial activities, professional and business services, educational and health services and leisure and hospitality. Jobs decreased in the areas of manufacturing, trade and transportation, government and mining and logging, the EDD said.

Unemployment in Los Angeles County also fell by 0.2% to 12.2% in October, the EDD said. Although the county added 19,000 new jobs over the past year, its rate of growth was weaker than other coastal regions and even the Inland Empire.

The Silicon Valley posted the state’s strongest jobs expansion over the past 12 months at 3.2%. San Diego had 2%, San Francisco 1.8%, Orange County 1.5% and the Inland Empire 1.4%.

“For the moment, the state’s economy is moving toward slowly recovering the jobs lost in the recession and ever so slowly reducing the number of unemployed residents, which still totals over 2 million, said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.


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-- Marc Lifsher