California and Sacramento’s unemployment rates fell last month to their lowest levels since 2007, suggesting the state’s economy is continuing to improve despite signs of a global slowdown.
Statewide unemployment fell by two-tenths of a point, to 5.5 percent, the Employment Development Department reported Friday. Employers added 39,900 jobs during February. It’s the lowest California unemployment rate since August 2007.
Sacramento’s regional unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point, to 5.4 percent, the lowest since October 2007.
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Economists had been warning of an economic slowdown because of instability in the global economy, which made a dent in California’s exports. In January, California’s payrolls shrank by 4,000 jobs. But in February, economic growth seemed to get back on track. The U.S. economy added a stronger-than-expected 242,000 jobs in February as the national unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent.
Sacramento-area employers added 2,000 jobs during the month, led by 2,100 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector. Jeff Michael, an economist at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, said a stronger ski season at Lake Tahoe could be responsible for the healthy increase in jobs. Last year several Tahoe ski resorts had to close early because of a lack of snow.
Across the state, five economic sectors added jobs, led by the leisure and hospitality sector with 18,300. Four sectors lost jobs.
In the past 12 months, the state has gained 451,600 jobs, an increase of 2.8 percent, lowering the unemployment rate by a full percentage point. In greater Sacramento, the unemployment rate has also fallen one full point as the region added 23,300 jobs. That’s a 2.6 percent growth rate.