SACRAMENTO (AP) — California's jobless rate dropped to 8.5 percent in November, the state Employment Development Department said Friday, continuing a positive trend after increasing temporarily over the summer.
The unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point since October. It had fallen to 8.5 percent in June before bouncing back to 8.9 percent by August.
The U.S. Labor Department said California, Texas and Indiana reported the largest job gains in November as hiring improved across the country.
California added more than 44,000 nonfarm jobs last month, with trade, transportation and utilities leading the way. That business category alone added 32,500 jobs.
Also gaining jobs were mining and logging, construction, manufacturing, information, and leisure and hospitality.
Four sectors lost jobs: financial activities; professional and business services; educational and health services; and government. The financial activities sector was the biggest loser, down 4,900 jobs.
California has added 903,000 jobs since February 2010, when the state employment department says the economic recovery began. Since November 2012, nonfarm jobs increased by 226,200 jobs, up 1.6 percent.
Stephen Levy, senior economist for the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto, said November's figures show Southern California is seeing a surge in jobs thanks to new construction, growing imports and exports through the region's ports, and emerging technology centers. That means Silicon Valley is no longer the state's only major job creator, he said in an email.
Despite the gains, California still exceeds the national unemployment rate, which dropped to 7 percent in November.
Only four states were worse off: Illinois, Michigan Nevada and Rhode Island. Nevada and Rhode Island tied for the nation's highest rate, at 9 percent.
A year ago, California's unemployment rate was 9.9 percent.
Michael Bernick, a former director of the Employment Development Department who is now a fellow at the Milken Institute economic think tank, said in an email that he expects steady job growth through 2014. But he predicted the economic rebound will bring more political and policy attention to the growing problem of wage inequity between the rich and poor.
On that front, the state employment agency reported that nearly 1.6 million people remained unemployed in California, down 34,000 from October and down by 256,000 from November 2012.
Earlier this week, the state employment department said it has notified more than 222,000 long-term unemployed Californians that they will lose their federally funded extended unemployment benefits at the end of the year.