California unemployment stalled at 9.8 percent again in January, but newly-revised numbers showed the state's job market was a lot healthier in 2012 than previously believed.
The Employment Development Department said today that only 1,700 net new jobs were created statewide in January. It marked the third straight month that unemployment was unchanged at 9.8 percent.
Dennis Meyers, principal economist at the state Department of Finance, said the increase in federal payroll taxes that took effect Jan. 1 may have played a role in the lackluster hiring. He said the information industry - which includes movie production, publishing and other related sectors - lost 18,000 jobs during the month, another potentially major factor.
On the other hand, the annual revision of the previous year's hiring showed a significant improvement in 2012's hiring data. The EDD said a total of 327,400 jobs were created statewide during the year - or 101,500 more than previously reported.
Meyers said such an upward revision is typical in a recovering economy. The monthly surveys are "slow to pick up new companies," which often do much of the hiring, he said.
As a result, hiring improved at a 2.3 percent pace during 2012. "That's pretty good, that's definitely what you want to see in a recovery," he said.
However, the state still has a long way to go to recapture the jobs lost during the recession. "The hole was so deep," he said.
The Tuesday afternoon release was highly unusual, and was caused by a glitch at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Local statistics will be released Friday. Sacramento's unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in December.
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