The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

California's jobless rate falls to 7.6 percent

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47635 full

California's unemployment rate hit 7.6 percent in May, maintaining its steady decline to pre-recession levels, the state Employment Development Department reported on Friday.

The state is now just 1,800 jobs short of its employment peak seven years ago — before the Great Recession. California's job growth is outpacing the country's and is second only to Texas. California added 40,000 jobs in May. 

Jordan Levine of Beacon Economics said businesses throughout the country have invested in infrastructure and efficiency, and that plays to California's strengths.     

"And I'm thinking about things like professional, scientific, and technical consulting services, or software development, or different types of equipment that help businesses do a lot more with less," Levine told KPCC.

In Los Angeles County, the unemployment rate also fell — from 8.3 percent in April to 8.2 percent in May. In May of last year, the unemployment rate in L.A. County was 10 percent.

Even so, unemployment in California remains above the national average of 6.3 percent. But Stephen Levy, director of Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, said the latest report shows California continuing to outpace the nation in job growth and unemployment reduction, according to the Associated Press.

In May, California gained 18,300 jobs, with more than 10,000 in leisure and hospitality businesses. Other fields that added positions included professional and business services, educational and health services, construction and government.  

Robert Kleinhenz, economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, told KPCC he is encouraged by the numbers, but says they might be even better if there were more qualified engineers. 

"What I have been hearing anecdotally is that aerospace sector employers are looking to fill job openings and having a hard time doing so," Kleinhenz said.

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