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California jobless rate falls for fifth straight month

January 20, 2012|By Marc Lifsher | This post has been corrected, as indicated below
  • Recent high school graduates Daniel Hemphill, 18, center, and Steven Ridge, 18, right, wait to talk to a recruiter at a San Diego job fair.
Recent high school graduates Daniel Hemphill, 18, center, and Steven Ridge,… (David Maung/Bloomberg )

California's unemployment rate fell to 11.1% in December from 11.3% in November, marking five straight months of declines.

Last month, the state gained about 10,700 new payroll jobs, the California Employment Development Department said Friday.

At the same time, an earlier tally of 6,600 new jobs created in November was revised upward dramatically to 24,700. In all, the Golden State created 240,300 new jobs in 2011.

The new numbers suggest that California's economy is gaining traction as it steadily replaces more of the 1.3 million jobs lost in the 2007-2009 recession.

The state unemployment rate was 12.5% at the end of 2010.

"The instinct I'm having is the recovery is finally starting to be real," said economist John Husing, a specialist in the Los Angeles area ports and the hard-hit Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

California's unemployment rate, though improving, still remains one of the highest in the country and is considerably higher than the national rate of 8.5% for December.

"The recovery has legs," said Howard Roth, chief economist at the California Department of Finance. "It's steady, and I think it's going to stick."

[For the Record, 11:29 a.m. Jan. 20: An earlier version of this post said California created 240,300 new jobs in 2012. The correct year was 2011.]

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