California employers added 32,500 to their payrolls in January, a sign that the state’s moribund labor market might finally be stirring to life.
The gains came as sectors throughout the economy, including construction and manufacturing, started to hire workers, according to numbers released Friday by the Employment Development Department.
The state’s unemployment rate increased slight to 12.5% in January, up from a revised 12.3% the previous month, as formerly discouraged workers who had dropped out of the labor force began job-hunting again.
California’s unemployment rate remains well above the national rate of 9.7%. But it’s not likely to climb much higher, said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands.
“In California, I think we are probably nearing the peak in the unemployment rate,” he said. “It’s very easy to be gloomy about overall picture, but I see some strengths.”
The construction sector added 16,200 jobs, manufacturing added 8,900, and education and health services added 7,100. Only three categories (information, financial activities, and professional and business services) lost jobs.
In Los Angeles, the state said the preliminary employment rate has ticked up to 13.2%, although that number was not seasonally adjusted.
Christopher McAuliffe, a laid-off advertising executive from Running Springs, said he’s seen more job postings online. He hasn’t snagged one yet, but he thinks that might soon change.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “You have to be.”