By Liset Marquez Staff Writer
Posted: 06/17/2011 06:19:43 PM PDT

The unemployment rate in the Inland Empire fell again in May, dropping to 13.2 percent, a state agency reported Friday.

The unemployment rate in the Inland Empire — western Riverside and San Bernardino counties — was down from a revised 13.4 percent in April, and below the year-ago estimate of 13.9 percent, according to the Employment Development Department.

Statewide, the unemployment rate stood at 11.7 percent for May.

The unemployment rate was 13.3 percent in Riverside County and 13.2 percent in San Bernardino County in May.

There are positives and negatives to the figures, Inland Empire-based economist John Husing.

Even though the unemployment rate in Riverside-San Bernardino area is down in May from April, Husing said it isn’t exactly good news.

“It’s not necessarily a positive indicator,” he said. “Fewer people are trying to find jobs.

But Husing acknowledged that the 13.2 percent rate in May is the lowest figure since May 2009 when it was 12.6 percent.

In order for the Inland Empire region to get out of its rut, steps need to be taken to capitalize on sectors that have continued to see a growth, Husing said.

Health services sector in the Inland Empire has seen a steady growth since last year.

Another sector that the region can capitalize on is the expansion of the logistics sector, Husing said.

“This region has a competitive advantage,” he said. “The key is to meet
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with other ports of California to make sure we capture some of the disproportionate field of national and international markets.”

Manufacturing in the Inland Empire reported the greatest month-over gain, with the addition of 1,000 jobs.

A sector that has continued to see a decline has been in government. Since May 2010, the government sector has lost 10,800 jobs, Husing said.

The unemployment rate dipped in Los Angeles County to 11.9 percent last month from a revised 12.0 percent in April and well below the rate of 12.5 percent in May 2010.

According to the Beacon Economics, California’s unemployment rate fell for the fifth consecutive month in May.

Beacon Economic officials credit it to people dropping out of the labor force. The state’s labor force has shrunk by 152,800 people since March 2010.

People who are not seeking work aren’t counted in the labor force, so the jobless rate can go down even with fewer jobs.

The decrease in the labor force could “mean a number of things,” EDD spokeswoman Olga Hernandez said.

“It could mean that people have given up looking for a job or moved out of the county,” she said. “It could also mean they found work outside of the county or went back to school.”

May was the fifth month in a row with a lower jobless rate, even though a survey of 42,000 California businesses showed the state lost about 29,000 payroll jobs during May.

Civilian employment increased by 3,000 to 4.3 million in May, while unemployment decreased by 5,000 to 584,000 over the month.

Yet, the civilian labor force, which measures the number of people with jobs and those actively seeking a job, decreased by 3,000 over the month to 4.89 million.

Payroll employment in California was estimated at 14 million in May, down by 29,200 from April.

The losses hit most industries in the state, especially professional and business services and construction. The bright spots were in financial services and information. The state gained a tepid 87,500 payroll jobs in a year, up just 0.6 percent.

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