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California adds 22,900 jobs in June; unemployment rate falls to 6.3%

California adds 22,900 jobs in June; unemployment rate falls to 6.3%
Job seekers meet with recruiters during a June 4 career fair in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Job growth in California continued to hum along in June as employers added 22,900 nonfarm payroll positions from the previous month.

Employment rose 3%, or 461,800 jobs, year over year, according to the California Employment Development Department.

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In May, payrolls swelled by 46,200 jobs, based on revised data. The June increase was less than half that amount, but the still-sizable surge left economists satisfied.

"I hesitate to refer to this as a recovery any longer," said Jordan Levine, director of economic research at Beacon Economics. "This is now an expansion."

The state's jobless rate took a tumble last month, dropping to 6.3% from 6.4% in May and 7.5% in June 2014. But in 2006, before the recession, the rate was as low as 4.8%.

Nationwide, unemployment fell to 5.3% in June.

In Los Angeles County, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked down to 7.4% last month from a revised 7.6% in May and 8.2% a year earlier.

"We've made a lot of progress over the past several years, but we still have a long way to go," said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Job levels in California, the world's eighth-largest economy, have expanded 13.5% since the end of the recession. Nationally, they've risen 9.4%.

Every region in the state, barring Sacramento, has reclaimed jobs lost during the downturn, according to analysts. Even in the drought-ravaged San Joaquin Valley, employment has recovered.

Southern California lags behind, however, with a 1.6% gain compared with job levels that are 9.4% above pre-recession highs in the Bay Area.

The California labor force increased by 17,000 workers from May. From a year earlier, the labor force has 266,000 more workers, a 1.42% increase.

Some 2,000 workers joined the Los Angeles labor force over the month.

"The strong jobs recovery has brought people back into the workforce while simultaneously reducing the number of unemployed residents," said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

In June, only one category of 11 statewide — mining and logging — suffered a slide in jobs from a year earlier, plunging 6.4% amid a prolonged fall in crude oil prices.

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Construction employers reported the state's largest percentage gain in employment, adding 47,000 jobs year over year for a 7% upswing.

The biggest numerical leap occurred in professional and business services with 133,100 jobs, or a 5.5% boost.

And rising government revenue means that teachers, police officers and other public servants are being hired at a faster rate.

Analysts predicted that the recent upswing in gasoline prices in California will do little economic damage, in part because the cost of gas tends to surge in the summer.

And few are worried about the tanking Chinese stock market, saying that the most severe consequence for Southern California could be to reduce the number of tourists and possibly the number of Chinese students enrolled in local schools.

But the state's housing shortage and extreme housing prices — which are outpacing income growth — could slow down the economy, analysts said. And low-wage jobs are still growing faster than mid- and high-wage positions.

Still, 2015 is looking like a "stellar year" for employment, said Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast.

"The state labor market is rapidly approaching the full employment level," he said. "And this will soon manifest in higher average wages in most sectors of the economy."

Twitter: @tiffhsulatimes.

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