Business & Real Estate

State added 39,800 jobs, cut unemployment rate to 6.5 percent in March

California reduced its unemployment rate to 6.5 percent and added 39,800 jobs last month, the state Employment Development Department said Friday.

The Sacramento region’s unemployment rate also declined, dropping to 6 percent from 6.3 percent in February. The U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.5 percent.

The state’s unemployment rate fell in March for the third month in a row, down from 6.7 percent in February and 7 percent in January, EDD said. It was the lowest jobless rate for California since March 2008, EDD spokesman Kevin Callori said.

Meanwhile, the job increase brought the total number of nonfarm positions added in the California to 1,860,700 since the economic recovery began in 2010, officials said. The biggest gain was in professional and business services, which added 16,900 jobs last month.

“That’s good, because a lot of those jobs are the highest-paying jobs,” Callori said.

But the number of people getting unemployment insurance benefits in March was 464,530, up from 426,874 in February. In addition, new claims for unemployment in March totaled 44,502, compared with 43,302 in February.

In the Sacramento region, the jobless rate has dropped more than 2 percentage points since March 2014, when it was 8.1 percent, EDD said. Unemployment last month was 5.8 percent in El Dorado County, 5.1 percent in Placer County, 6 percent in Sacramento County and 7 percent in Yolo County.

The four-county region added 7,400 jobs in March, for a total of 915,400 jobs, EDD said. The increase included 1,900 positions in professional and business services, including 1,400 in professional, scientific and technical fields.

Construction also added 1,900 jobs in the region last month, EDD said. The bulk of gains, 1,800 jobs, were contractors in specialty trades. The leisure and hospitality industry added 1,600 jobs.

Meanwhile, three employment categories – information; trade, transportation and utilities; and other services – each dropped 100 jobs in the region since February.

Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.