(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

California’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.1 percent in March, and nonfarm payroll jobs increased by 11,800 during the month for a total gain of 1,244,500 jobs since the recovery began in February 2010, according to data released today by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) from two separate surveys.

The unemployment rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,500 California households.

The March figure represents a substantial reduction — nearly 12 percent — over the same time last year, when the unemployment rate was 9.2 percent.

Nonfarm jobs in California totaled 15,365,500 in March, an increase of 11,800 jobs over the month, according to a survey of businesses that is larger and less variable statistically. The survey of 58,000 California businesses measures jobs in the economy. The year-over-year change, March 2013 to March 2014, shows an increase of 325,100 jobs (up 2.2 percent).

“California is now helping to lead the nation’s economic recovery,” reported on FiveThirtyEight. “The state has accounted for 16 percent of U.S. job growth over the past year, well above its 12 percent share of the population.”

The federal survey of households, done with a smaller sample than the survey of employers, shows an increase in the number of employed people. It estimates the number of Californians holding jobs in March was 17,156,000, an increase of 43,000 from February 2014, and up 252,000 from the employment total in March of last year.

The number of people unemployed in California was 1,504,000 — up by 5,000 over the month, but down by 211,000 compared with March of last year.

Seven categories (mining and logging; construction; trade, transportation and utilities; information; professional and business services; educational and health services; and government) added jobs over the month, gaining 18,100 jobs. Information posted the largest increase over the month, adding 7,000 jobs.

Four categories (manufacturing; financial activities; leisure and hospitality; and other services) reported job declines over the month, down 6,300 jobs. Financial activities posted the largest decrease over the month, down 2,400 jobs.

Nine categories (mining and logging; construction; trade, transportation and utilities; information; professional and business services; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government) posted job gains over the year, adding 328,800 jobs. Professional and business services posted the largest gains on a numerical basis, adding 88,100 jobs (up 3.8 percent). Construction posted the largest gains on a percentage basis, up 5.9 percent (adding 37,100 jobs).

Two categories (manufacturing and financial activities) posted job declines over the year, down 3,700 jobs. Financial activities posted the largest declines on both a numerical and percentage basis, down by 2,000 jobs (a 0.3 percent decrease).

In related data, the EDD reported that there were 510,919 people receiving regular Unemployment Insurance benefits during the March 2014 survey week. This compares with 539,062 last month and 532,831 last year. At the same time, new claims for unemployment insurance were 52,755 in March 2014, compared with 65,494 in February and 58,842 in March of last year.

The unemployment rates reported for the nine Bay Area counties were as follows:

  • Solano                7.9 percent
  • Contra Costa     7.0 percent
  • Alameda             6.6 percent
  • Sonoma              6.2 percent
  • Santa Clara        6.1 percent
  • Napa                    6.0 percent
  • San Francisco    5.2 percent
  • San Mateo          5.0 percent
  • Marin                  4.7 percent

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