California’s jobless rate hit a record low 4.3 percent in December, according to a state report released on Friday.
That’s lower than any month since 1976, when the state’s Employment Development Department started regularly publishing jobs data. It’s the second month in a row the state hit a record, following November's 4.6 percent.
California gained nearly 53,000 jobs in December, following a trend in recent months of sizeable job gains after a spring and summer in 2017 of inconsistent employment growth.
“It’s a strong jobs report for California. It’s really impressive — gains across the state,” said Jeffrey Michael, an economist at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Sectors that added the most jobs included government, construction, hospitality and leisure, professional and business services and information.
Several coastal counties, including Orange and San Francisco, had unemployment rates at 3 percent or less. San Mateo County’s 2.1 percent was the lowest in California.
Jobless levels in the Central Valley and interior counties, by contrast, remained two to three times higher than in many coastal areas.
Even so, Michael said there’s been significant job growth in places such as the Inland Empire and Central Valley recently, bringing jobless rates to single digits across much of those areas.
“In a lot of places in the Central Valley, double digit unemployment rates have been the average or the norm and single digits are the good years,” Michael told Capital Public Radio. “So, when we see rates 6, 7, 8 percent in the Central Valley, that’s higher than the U.S. average. But for their historic norms, it’s remarkably low and shows real improvement.”
Three of California’s 58 counties still have double digit unemployment. Those include Imperial County east of San Diego at nearly 18 percent; Colusa County at 17 percent and Tulare County at 10 percent.
San Mateo County had the state’s lowest rate at 2.1 percent.
The nation’s jobless rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent in December. Employers across the country added 148,000 thousand jobs last month.
California’s unemployment rate was at one of its lowest points during the Dot-com bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It reached 4.7 percent in November and December of 2000, which served as records before 2017.