California jobless rate declines

By Simon Avery, The Associated Press
Saturday March 16, 2002

LOS ANGELES — California’s jobless rate declined modestly in February, thanks to gains in construction and trade jobs, officials said Friday. 

But the state bucked the national trend of job growth, showing a net loss of 4,700 payroll jobs since January. 

California’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent last month, down from a revised 6.4 percent in January, the Employment Development Department said. A year ago, the state’s jobless rate was 4.7 percent. 

Despite the positive uptick in February, key sectors of the economy continued to show weakness. 

The services sector, which includes business services such as advertising and computer programming, posted the largest month-to-month decline, losing 17,600 jobs. Manufacturing also continued to shed positions. 

Earlier this month, figures showed the national economy adding 66,000 new jobs in February, helping push the country’s jobless rate down to 5.5 percent, from 5.6 percent in January, and giving the strongest signal yet that the national recession could be ending. 

In California, however, even as the numbers improve slightly, major sectors of the economy such as technology and manufacturing remain under pressure. 

In Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, the jobless rate in February declined to 7.3 percent from 7.7 percent in January.  

In Los Angeles, it fell to 6.4 percent from 6.8 percent. 

In a separate survey of households, the EDD reported that 84,000 more Californians were working in February than in January. A record total of 16,523,000 people held jobs in the state during the month.