Business & Real Estate

California, Sacramento unemployment rise slightly

Unemployment increased slightly in California and greater Sacramento last month, but job growth was strong, state officials said Friday.

The statewide unemployment rate in May rose a tenth of a percentage point, to 6.4 percent, even as non-farm payroll jobs increased by 54,200, according to the Employment Development Department.

It’s not unusual for the unemployment rate to increase even as job growth is robust. Tens of thousands of Californians entered the job market during May, enough to put upward pressure on the unemployment rate as hiring was strong.

“California’s job market continues to hum,” said economist Sung Won Sohn of California State University, Channel Islands, in a note to reporters.

The biggest gains were recorded in so-called professional and business services, a broad category that takes in engineers, lawyers and temp workers. The sector added 21,300 jobs.

Unemployment has fallen 1.2 points in California in the past year. Sohn noted that U.S. unemployment has dropped just 0.8 percent in the same time.

In greater Sacramento, unemployment increased two-tenths of a point, to 5.7 percent. Payroll jobs grew by 10,400 in the region. The area unemployment rate was 6.8 percent a year ago.

The leisure and hospitality sector added 3,500 jobs during May, the most of any area of the Sacramento economy. The construction industry was No. 2, adding 2,800 jobs.

Across the region, payrolls have grown by 2.5 percent in the past year. That trails the statewide average of 3 percent.