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California's March job gains show gradual recovery continuing

April 20, 2012|By Ricardo Lopez
  • Job candidates fill out forms last month for interviews at the Goodwill Southern California job fair in Bell.
Job candidates fill out forms last month for interviews at the Goodwill… (Damian Dovarganes/Associated…)

California’s labor market continued its slow improvement in March as employers added jobs for the eighth straight month.

Payrolls grew by 18,200 jobs last month, according to figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department. That’s on top of a revised 38,600 jobs in February.

The unemployment rate increased to 11% in March, up slightly from February’s 10.9% rate. Still, improving job prospects have encouraged more California workers to reenter the labor force, driving the jobless rate higher, said Dennis Meyers, principal economist for the state's Department of Finance.

"People are starting to feel it’s probably a better time to look for work," Meyers said. "People think there's a good chance of getting jobs."

California’s March employment gains were widespread across a variety of industries. The leisure and hospitality sector added the most jobs at 37,800 positions. Professional and business services, financial activities and education and health services also enjoyed healthy increases.

However the state’s long-suffering construction sector lost jobs, as did manufacturing, information and other services.

Over the past year, California has added 181,000 jobs.

"The overall numbers paint a picture of a perfectly reasonable pace of growth," said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, an economic research firm. "People want more than that, but unfortunately, what we’re seeing is normal growth."

In Los Angeles County, the March unemployment rate was 11.8%, unchanged from February’ revised rate.

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