California’s job growth continued its sluggish pace in January, although the Golden State’s unemployment rate did fall a tenth of a percentage point to 5.1 percent.
The state Employment Development Department’s monthly report, released Friday, said California added 9,700 jobs in January.
That was actually an improvement over the addition of only 3,700 jobs to close out the year in December, when the statewide jobless rate was 5.2 percent.
By comparison, the nation’s unemployment rate increased 0.1 percent in January to 4.8 percent.
Of the state’s 42,700 job gains in January, the educational and health services sector saw the largest jump, adding 19,800 jobs. The professional and business services segment saw a gain of 12,500 jobs. EDD said the trade, transportation and utilities sector shed 21,100 jobs of the 33,000 statewide job declines in January.
Michael Bernick, a labor lawyer in San Francisco and a former EDD director, called Friday’s data “a striking report. … We’re seeing unemployment rates that we haven’t seen in at least 16 years, and in some ways, some of the lowest rates we’ve seen since the 1960s period.”
He pointed to a 3.2 percent jobless rate in San Francisco County and 2.9 percent in San Mateo County.
“As good as these numbers are, they do mask a lot of structural changes and don’t give a full picture of how difficult it still is for some people to get jobs,” Bernick said.
Bernick said about 3 million Californians have part-time work, which is classified as payroll employment, and another 500,000 are employed through staffing firms.
“Those jobs are much different than someone working 40 hours a week,” he said. “There’s still difficulty in getting full-time work.”
Sacramento County’s unemployment rate was less rosy, at 5.4 percent, with 37,400 unemployed, according to EDD.
And Bernick acknowledged the recently slow rate of job growth statewide, compared with monthly job gains of about 20,000 to 30,000, on average, just last year.
Long-term, EDD said California has gained nearly 2.5 million jobs since economic expansion began in February 2010.