California gains 3,700 jobs in December, unemployment down to 5.2%

Los Angeles Times
California employers capped off a solid year of job growth in 2016 by adding a net 3,700 jobs during the month of December, the Employment Development Department reported Friday.

The unemployment rate was 5.2%, down from 5.3% in November. The national jobless rate was 5% in December.

“An unemployment rate in the 5% range is what you see in California when it’s firing on all cylinders,” said Robert Kleinhenz, an economist at Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm.

A rising minimum wage, as well as new labor laws mandating paid sick leave and increasing the liability for labor violations, have not prevented employers in the state from adding to their payrolls.

“There may be some effect of the higher minimum wage on the extent to which some industries are hiring, but it’s not obvious,” Kleinhenz said.

Trade, transportation, utilities and the hospitality industries had the strongest showings last month. Combined, those sectors piled on a net 20,900 jobs.

Five industries lagged behind, cutting a net 24,100 jobs combined. Professional and business services, usually one of the strongest sectors, cut 8,600 jobs, the most of any industry in the state.

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