California unemployment rate dips to 7.2 percent

California recorded its lowest jobless rate last month since the early months of the Great Recession, while the number of additional jobs was the second-largest gain since the state began keeping that record in 1990, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

The unemployment rate dipped to 7.2 percent in November, a tenth of a percentage point improvement over October. That was down from a recession-era high of 12.4 percent in February 2010, and the lowest level since June 2008, when it stood at 7 percent.

The state added 90,100 payroll jobs in November, second only to the 111,000 new jobs created in October 2012.

“Definitely a very strong report overall,” department spokesman Kevin Callori said.

It's the third time this year that the state gained more than 60,000 jobs in a month.

Moreover, every sector of the economy contributed to the growth. The trade, transportation and utilities sector had the largest increase in November, adding 19,000 jobs.

California typically sees seasonal gains in November as ski resorts open and retailers add employees for the holiday shopping season. But Callori said the increase seems more driven by a recovering economy and falling gas prices that are leaving more discretionary money in consumers' pockets.

“It's obviously strong gains all over the board on the industries, so it's not just related to the seasonal factors,” he said. “Even industries that would show (seasonal) gains, they showed stronger gains than typical.”

For the year, nine of the 11 categories tracked by the department reported increases, led by a recovering construction trade with 40,800 new jobs. Year over year, government saw a loss of 3,400 jobs.

The state reported 392,610 people receiving unemployment benefits in November, up slightly from the previous month.

The state still was above the national unemployment rate of 5.8 percent for November. It trailed only Mississippi and tied with Georgia for the nation's highest rate.

California has added more than 1.5 million nonfarm payroll jobs since the recession.

A year ago, the state's jobless rate stood at 8.4 percent, but it has since added more than 344,000 jobs.

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