April 19, 2011 > March jobless rate dips to 12 percent in Calif
March jobless rate dips to 12 percent in Calif
By Adam Weintraub, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), Apr 15 - California's unemployment rate dipped slightly to 12 percent in March, the lowest figure since September 2009, the state reported Friday.
The March figure marked the third straight monthly decline for the state's jobless rate and came despite a drop of more than 11,000 nonfarm payroll jobs during the month.
Nearly 2.2 million Californians were unemployed in March, down by 79,000 from the same period a year ago, the Employment Development Department said.
California has added 155,900 nonfarm payroll jobs since September 2010, an average of about 26,000 a month, department spokesman Kevin Callori said.
In addition, the state has provided 14.5 percent of the job gains in the U.S. over the past year, although California has 11 percent of all the jobs in the nation, he said.
The March jobless rate was down from February's revised figure of 12.1 percent. However, observers cautioned that the methodology used to calculate the number changed over that period, so comparisons were difficult.
The total number of payroll jobs in California declined by 11,600 from February to March, with only four of 11 industry sectors adding jobs.
Still, Stephen Levy, chief economist for the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said nearly 91,000 jobs have been added during the past three months.
"Some of the unemployment rate decline is likely from people dropping out of the labor force, but much is from people getting jobs," he said.
Analysts had expected strong job-growth numbers in February would be revised downward, but the gain held up, Levy said.
The March decline, he said, was likely "an aberration in a very strong set of revisions and a very strong three-month trend in job numbers."
A separate federal survey of households estimated that 15.9 million Californians held jobs in March, down 61,000 from a year earlier. That survey includes self-employed workers and does not count people who are out of the labor force and not seeking work.