Business & Economy

California's unemployment rate dips below 8 percent for first time in six years

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California's unemployment rate fell in April to 7.8 percent -- the first drop below 8 percent since 2008; in Los Angeles County, it was slightly higher at 8.3 percent.

“Here in 2014 we really seeing the economy pretty close to firing on all cylinders in a way we have not seen since before the Great Recession,” said Robert Klienhenz, chief economist at the LA County Economic Development Corporation.

He says in Southern California and across the state, the job growth has happened across industries and pay grades.

“Its not just the lower paying jobs being added,” he said but also “middle wage jobs and more and more higher wage jobs continue to be added to the ranks as well,” he said.

Jordan Levine at Beacon Economics agrees. “One of the nice things is that we really have created jobs across the spectrum not just of industries but also of wage categories,” he said. “We have created a good number of jobs in leisure and hospitality,” which tend to be relatively low skilled and low paying he said. “But we’ve also created a decent number of high paying jobs in healthcare, professional, scientific and technical, which tend to have well above average salaries,” Levine said.

The state Employment Development Department reported the state added more than 56,000 jobs last month. That is more than any other state except Texas.

“And all of these are good signs that the California economies and the local economies are very much on the mend from the Great Recession,” Klienhenz said. But he adds it has taken a long time. “Typically we see the labor market fully recover all the jobs that were lost about 24 months after the start of a recession,” he said. “Here we are five years after the end of the recession and we still don’t see all the jobs lost in the recession have been recovered.”

But that watershed moment is just ahead according to Levine at Beacon Economics. He expects in the next couple of months California will gain back the 1.33 million jobs lost in the recession.

All of the new jobs created aren’t in the same sectors as the jobs lost. “So I do think some workers are going to have a harder time than others, ” Levine said. “I think there are still folks who are going to face challenges.” He said lower skilled workers who lost jobs are having a harder time finding good paying work.

Imperial county posted the highest unemployment rate in California at 21.6 percent. Marin County north of San Francisco has the lowest jobless rate in the state at 3.9 percent.