California Unemployment Rate Lower Than December 2012

California's unemployment rate continues to move lower, dropping to 8.3 percent in December, even as the number of jobs declined in some higher-wage industries such as manufacturing and construction.

The latest jobless figure is 1.5 percentage points lower than it was in December 2012.

The state Employment Development Department also reported Friday that California added 13,600 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, bringing total job gains in the state to 922,500 since February 2010. That's when the department says the recovery from the recession began.

California's jobless rate remains above the national average of 6.7 percent.

Despite adding 235,700 jobs in 2013, higher-wage sectors such as manufacturing and construction posted declines in December. Manufacturing saw the biggest drop, with 6,000 fewer jobs.

For the year, however, manufacturing jobs remained flat, while the number of construction jobs grew 4.8 percent, the highest rate among all sectors.

Leisure and hospitality was the second highest growth sector in 2013, with the number of jobs growing 4.5 percent in 2013. Government was the only sector to lose jobs.

The state's unemployment rate had risen to double digits during the recession and was at 9 percent or higher for five years until May 2013.

Even with the declining unemployment rate, 1.5 million members of California's labor force remained without jobs in December, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted data. In addition, the number of people counted in the state's labor pool has been declining, from 18.6 million in October to 18.5 million in December. Part of that drop could represent people who remain without work and have given up looking for a job.

Unemployment rates were generally higher in California's interior counties, primarily those dependent on farming. Imperial County, along the Mexican border, and Colusa County, north of Sacramento, had by far the state's highest unemployment rates, at 22.5 percent and 20.5 percent, respectively.

Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties had the lowest unemployment rates, all below 5 percent.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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