SACRAMENTO . (AP) — California’s unemployment rate fell to 7 percent last month, a drop of two-tenths of a percentage point from a month earlier, but the state added just 700 jobs in December, a disappointing number after good job gains in November.
Job gains in areas such as trade and transportation, financial activities, educational and health services, hospitality and government were offset by major losses in construction, information, and professional, business and other services, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.
Economists said the apparently slim number of jobs added in December was not a huge concern given the overall growth pattern of the last year. The survey also noted that a federal survey of households estimated that 40,000 more Californians were employed in December than in November.
When the swings in the number of jobs created month-by-month are evened out, the state had roughly a net gain of 26,000 jobs per month in 2014, said Michael Bernick, a former department director who is now a fellow at the Milken Institute.
“This is healthier job growth than we have seen since the early 2000s, and more in line with what we can expect in 2015,” Bernick said. But he noted that a far higher percentage of those new jobs are part-time than full-time, replacing full-time positions that were eliminated during the recession.
“The part-time workforce reached 3.49 million in November, of which 1.2 million were ‘involuntary’ part time workers who were unable to find full-time work,” he wrote in an analysis.
EDD said that the state has added more than 1.5 million jobs since the economic recovery began in February 2010. The last time California’s jobless rate stood at 7 percent was June 2008, before the recession took hold.
The San Francisco Bay Area’s booming technology sector continues to drive economic growth for the whole state, said Steven Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy based in Palo Alto.
He said that data show people were also re-entering the workforce at a faster-than-normal pace in 2014 as the job market rebounded, but that many of the new jobs are lower wage.
“The recovery is still modest by historical standards with very slow wage growth for many, especially compared to increases in housing prices and rents,” Levy said