Calif. jobless rate dips slightly to 10.9 percent


Valley Unemployment Rate
Fresno County: 15.8%
Merced County: 18.8%
Madera County: 15.5%
Mariposa County: 11.7%
Kings County: 15.6%
Tulare County: 16.2%
The state's jobless rate had dropped below 11 percent during the first two months of the year, only to bounce back up to 11 percent in March.

"A lower rate is always good news, but it just gets us back down where we were in January, February," said Dennis Meyers, an economist for the state Department of Finance. "I think it's kind of symptomatic of this kind of low boil we're on."

The nation's unemployment rate also fell in April, to 8.1 percent.

Last month, employers in California added a total of more than 19,000 jobs in four categories -- mining and logging, trade, transportation and utilities, and professional and business services.

The figures also showed the subcategory of professional, scientific, and technical services jobs has now regained all the high-wage, high-tech jobs lost in the recession.

However, nonfarm payroll jobs decreased overall by 4,200 in April, breaking a string of eight consecutive monthly gains, said Kevin Callori, a spokesman for the state Economic Development Department.

Seven sectors lost a combined 23,300 jobs in April, including construction, manufacturing, information, financial activities, educational and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government. Construction was the biggest loser, down 6,700 jobs from March.

Several sectors have seen seasonal ebbs and flows in recent months, partly from a rainy spring that may have slowed construction hiring, analysts said.

Michael Bernick, a former director of the Economic Development Department who is now a fellow at the Milken Institute, said the decline in the unemployment rate was due to the drop in the number of Californians who are seeking to be part of the labor force.

More than 2 million Californians are still out of work, but there were 164,000 fewer people unemployed than a year ago, according to the state agency.

California's unemployment rate trailed only neighboring Nevada, which has the nation's highest rate at 11.7 percent, and Rhode Island, which had a jobless rate of 11.2 percent.

A year ago, California's unemployment rate was 11.8 percent. The state agency says 385,600 jobs have been created in California since the economic recovery began in September 2009.

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