California jobless rate falls to lowest point in almost 5 years*

jobs7.jpgMay's unemployment rate of 8.6 percent is down from 9 percent the previous month, one more indicator that the state's economy is improving at an accelerated level. Some analysts had expected the rate to remain in the 9 percent range for the remainder of 2013. California job growth has outpaced most all states in the nation for more than a year, though the separate (and sometimes conflicting) payroll survey shows that only 10,800 positions were added last month (32,100 jobs were added in Ohio). Both a sharply declining unemployment rate and limited payroll gains make the employment picture a little murky. One explanation could be a growing number of folks who are self-employed; independent contractors, many of them dealing in cash, are tougher for the government to identify. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in L.A. County fell to 9.6 percent from a revised 9.9 percent in April, but payroll employment fell by 15,500 (L.A., on average, has added 3,600 payroll jobs per month over the past year). "It is still a long way to go for L.A. to return to its ideal trend level," said William Yu, an economist with UCLA's Anderson Forecast. The entertainment industry took an especially big hit in May, with 16,700 jobs lost. But as we've pointed out many times, the movie and TV businesses tend to be very volatile - in recent years they've maintained a range from 110,000 to 135,000. Payroll jobs in May totaled 112,100. Here's the EDD release.

*Updated post

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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