By Kevin Smith, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/29/2013 06:54:01 PM PDT
Updated: 03/29/2013 07:00:23 PM PDT

California’s unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level since December 2008 and 41,200 jobs were added, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

The state’s jobless rate for February was 9.6 percent, down from 9.8 percent the previous month and 10.8 percent a year earlier. California has added a total of 725,100 jobs since the recovery began in February 2010.

“After a long recession and housing crisis in which the state lagged the nation in job growth, California is once again one of the nation’s job growth leaders,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto. “Are things better than a year ago? The answer is yes. We are on the right track, finally. We are growing faster than the nation but we still have a ways to go. ”

February’s growth was strong enough to push the number of unemployed residents below 1.8 million for the first time since January 2009 and the economy is gaining momentum across the state, Levy said.

“Southern California is now a full participant in the recovery,” he said.

To read entire story, click here.