Natalie Kitroeff
March 24, 2017

California’s unemployment rate ticked down to 5% in February, reaching a 10-year low on eight consecutive months of job growth.

Businesses in California increased their payrolls by a net 22,900 employees, according to data released Friday by the state’s Employment Development Department.

By comparison, in February 2016, California gained 43,000 jobs. Over the last 12 months, the state has added 315,800 jobs, an increase of 1.9%. That compares to a 1.6% increase in the nation as a whole.

The 5% unemployment rate, down from a revised 5.2% in January, remained higher than the national rate of 4.7%.

California hasn’t seen a jobless rate below 5% since 2006, said Michael Bernick, who directed the EDD from 1999 to 2004 and is now an attorney at Sedgwick, a San Francisco law firm.

“We are at near-historic lows,” Bernick said.

He pointed to impressive gains in Orange and San Diego counties — which had 3.7% and 4.2% unemployment rates, respectively — as a sign that Southern California’s job market is tightening in lockstep with the Bay Area. Professional services accounted for much of the uptick in employment in those two counties, including administrative and support services, which includes temp agencies.

In San Francisco and San Mateo counties, the February unemployment rate dipped to 3% and 2.8%, respectively.

Los Angeles County added a net 33,400 jobs in February, and its unemployment rate dipped to 4.8%, from a revised 4.9% in January.

The county’s strongest sector was education, which produced 12,400 new jobs. The hospitality sector, which had an uncharacteristically bad month in January, rebounded in February, adding the second-highest number of jobs in the county.

Economists have warned that California will add jobs at a slower rate this year as the job market creeps toward so-called full employment — a scenario where almost everyone looking for work has found it.

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