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California job market outpaces U.S.; employers add 38,300 jobs in June

July 20, 2012|By Ricardo Lopez
  • A job seekers prepares to meet with recruiters at a job fair in San Mateo. California employers added 38,300 workers in June, bringing the unemployment rate down to 10.7%. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
A job seekers prepares to meet with recruiters at a job fair in San Mateo.… (Justin Sullivan/Getty…)

Despite weak job growth nationally, California's labor market showed a second month of strong job gains, with employers adding 38,300 jobs in June.

With the swelling in payrolls, the unemployment rate dipped to 10.7% in June, according to data released by the state's Employment Development Department.

California's gains are a marked difference from the national employment report. U.S. employers added 80,000 jobs in June, the third straight month of weak job growth.

"It’s an impressive number," said Christopher Thornberg, founding principal at Beacon Economics. "This is very surprising."

In California, several sectors added jobs, with the largest gains in trade, transportation and utilities, which added 9,400 jobs; leisure and hospitality, with 9,200 new jobs; and construction, 8,100 jobs. 

Part of the reason California is outpacing the U.S., Thornberg said, is because the state is digging itself out of a deeper hole after the state's real estate sector tanked.

But not all economists shared the same enthusiasm.

Adding 38,300 jobs "sounds like a nice number, and it is," said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo. "But I don’t think that it’s necessarily happy days out here again."

He said that although the report was positive, the state needs to post higher numbers to signal a strong recovery.

Friday's data showed job gains in seven sectors. In the last year, the state has added 279,100 jobs. Since June 2011, the jobless rate has dropped by 1.2 percentage points.

"You’re seeing broad-based hiring, and that really is good news," said Esmael Adibi, director of the A. Gary Anderson Center at Chapman University. "Of course, the problem is the unemployment, which hasn’t gone down as much."

The dip in the unemployment rate could be attributed to discouraged workers leaving the labor force or moving out of state, he said. The state's civilian labor force shrank by 36,800 in June.

Friday's report also showed revised job figures for May. The state added 45,900 jobs that month, instead of 33,900 as initially reported.

Across Southern California, several counties posted job gains. Los Angeles County added 13,300 jobs; Orange County 8,700; San Diego County 13,400 jobs. The Inland Empire, where San Bernardino has declared a fiscal crisis that is leading to bankruptcy, the county added only 200 jobs.

California's unemployment rate remains the third-highest in the country, behind only Nevada, with 11.6%, and Rhode Island at 10.9%. The national jobless rate is 8.2%.

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ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com

Follow Ricardo Lopez on Twitter.

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