California's unemployment rate fell below 10 percent last month for the first time since the worst of the recession, state officials said today.
The rate fell three-tenths of a point, to 9.8 percent, the Employment Development Department reported. It was the lowest unemployment rate in California since January 2009.
The news wasn't all good, though: Payrolls actually shrank by 3,800 during the month.
That statistic, based on a separate survey, is generally considered more reliable than the unemployment rate. But two leading economists said they don't buy the payroll numbers and believe the state's economy continues in a growth mode.
"We're on that same trend, (the unemployment rate) has been trending down pretty steadily since November 2010," said Dennis Meyers, principal economist at the state Department of Finance.
Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics in Los Angeles said California withstood the slowdown that afflicted much of the rest of the country earlier this year. "It's been a better year here than for the U.S. overall," he said. "California has shown a certain amount of resilience."
Sacramento's unemployment rate held steady at 9.8 percent, even though the region lost 2,900 jobs in November. The area lost 2,700 jobs in construction alone as the building season wound down.
On the statewide level, much of November's reported job losses came in two of the strongest economic sectors - health care and private education. Thornberg and Meyers said they found it unlikely those two sectors really shrank.
"I find it implausible that these sectors are all of a sudden giving up jobs," Thornberg said.