Business & Real Estate

California unemployment rate falls to 6.2 percent

California added jobs at a robust rate last month, helping the Golden State’s unemployment rate fall to 6.2 percent in July, state officials reported Friday.

The Employment Development Department said nonfarm payroll jobs increased 80,600 during the month, pulling the statewide jobless rate down a tenth of a percentage point from June and adding to an overall gain of more than 2 million jobs since economic recovery began in February 2010.

EDD said the year-over-year change, July 2014 to July 2015, saw an increase of 494,200 jobs, up 3.2 percent.

Michael Bernick, a labor lawyer in San Francisco and former state EDD director, called the monthly job spike “astonishing,” adding that it was “the fourth largest monthly gain since January 2000 and the largest since October 2012.”

Bernick said some of the July increase could be attributed to seasonal hiring, especially in the leisure/hospitality sector. “But there’s no question,” he added, “whatever else is problematic about the recovery in California and the United States, these payroll job gains are not a mirage.”

Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of California-based Beacon Economics, noted that California’s 3.2 percent job gain over the past year was well ahead of 2.1 percent growth nationwide. “This is the third straight year of 3 percent-plus growth in California, making the state the third-fastest growing economy in the entire nation since 2012, behind only Utah and Nevada,” he said. “This may come as a bit of a shock to many business climate advocates who had written the state off.”

EDD said the number of people unemployed in California in July was 1,179,000, down 17,000 from June and a decrease of 217,000 from July last year.

The professional and business services sector posted the largest increase over a month’s time, adding 22,300 jobs.

Meanwhile, EDD said Sacramento-area unemployment climbed to 6 percent in July, up from a revised 5.6 percent in June.

Eight area industries saw monthly job increases in July, with the leisure/hospitality leading the way with a gain of 1,900 jobs. However, a monthly loss of 10,100 jobs in the local government education sector helped push the area’s jobless rate higher.

The region has added 25,900 jobs in the past year, a 2.9 percent gain.