Explaining Southern California's economy

CA unemployment rate holds steady at 9.8 percent in December

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A job seeker pauses as he fills out an application during a job fair in Northern California.

California's unemployment was unchanged from November at 9.8 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Since December 2011, however, California has experienced a substantial drop in its jobless rate, from 11.2 percent. Over that period, the state added 225,900 new jobs, second only to Texas, with 260,800.

So why didn't California's unemployment rate drop more in December? Because the state earned the dubious honor of losing the most jobs of any U.S. state: 17,500. This reverses a trend of California adding jobs at a decent clip, a highlight in an otherwise sluggish recovery.

California's unemployment rate remains a full two points higher than the nation's 7.8 percent.

In December 2012, sectors that shed jobs in significant numbers were professional and business services and trade, transportation, and utilities. Construction actually saw modest gains, an indication that the housing recovery in the state isn't losing momentum.

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