Unemployment fell to 12.4 percent in California last month as the state recorded its fifth straight month of job growth, although the numbers still reflect a weak recovery.
Payrolls grew by 28,300 jobs in May, the Employment Development Department reported today. The statewide unemployment rate fell a tenth of a point from a revised 12.5 percent.
The job growth was twice as high as in April, when meager hiring prompted economists to fret that the recovery was failing to gather momentum. However, it's also clear that much of the hiring in May was due to temporary hiring by the U.S. Census Bureau; the federal government added 30,000 jobs during the month.
Howard Roth, chief economist at the state Department of Finance, said the California's non-farm private sector actually lost 1,700 jobs during May.
Sacramento's unemployment rate fell to 12 percent, down from a revised 12.3 percent in April. The region added 3,800 jobs during May. As on the statewide level, the big gain was in federal government payrolls as the census geared up.
California still had the third highest unemployment rate in the U.S. in May, trailing Nevada (14 percent) and Michigan (13.6 percent). May marked the first time since April 2006 that a state other than Michigan had the worst unemployment in the nation.