The employment gain follows an unexpected drop in January, which many now see as an anomaly rather than as a sign of trouble ahead.

By Shan Li
March 21, 2014, 5:09 p.m.

California’s economy perked up in February, adding 58,800 net new jobs and gaining some momentum after a lackluster showing the month before.

The job gains helped push the unemployment rate down to 8% from 8.1% in January, the state’s Employment Development Department reported Friday.

“California employment is coming back very nicely after a bump in the month of January,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at Cal State Channel Islands. “We are seeing more and more cylinders in the economic engine firing.”

Economists had worried that a surprising loss of jobs in January spelled trouble for this year, but many now dismiss those results as an anomaly.

California captured about a third of the jobs created in the nation in February, and the state continues to outpace the country; its payrolls grew 2.2% in the last year, compared with 1.6% for the U.S. overall.

Some 36,000 workers also entered the labor force last month, a sign that people were encouraged enough by the economic recovery to start hunting for jobs again. It’s a positive change from months past, when the jobless rate sometimes fell because workers gave up looking for jobs altogether.

“We are getting back on track,” said Esmael Adibi, director of Chapman University’s A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research. “The unemployment rate is dropping for a good reason.”

Adibi predicts that job growth will rise to 2.7% year over year in 2014.

That’s good news for Shane Kennedy, who moved to Los Angeles from Connecticut last month to pursue his dreams of working in the fashion industry. The 46-year-old is living off savings from his former job as a production assistant at a radio station, but he is confident that he will land a good job.

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