By Natalie Kitroeff
April 21, 2017

  • Job Layoffs Job Market Jobs and Workplace Unemployment and Layoffs

California piled on 19,300 jobs in March and its unemployment rate dropped to 4.9%, according to figures released Friday by the state’s Employment Development Department. That’s the first time since December 2006 that the jobless rate has fallen below 5%.

It was another month of solid but not breathtaking job gains in a state that has slowed a bit after years of unbridled growth.

Still, California grew faster than the rest of the country in March, expanding at a rate of 2.1% year over year, compared with 1.5% nationwide. Californians were still slightly more likely to be unemployed; the U.S. jobless rate hit 4.5% in March.

The standout sector in March was construction, which increased payrolls by 18,900. The information sector — which includes tech businesses in Silicon Valley and moviemakers in Hollywood — faltered last month, cutting head count by 9,400.

Los Angeles County gained a net 16,000 jobs in March. The county’s unemployment rate fell to 4.6%, down from a revised 4.8% in February.

Here are some key insights into the latest labor-market report from the world’s sixth-largest economy.

California powered the nation

In March, California produced about 20% of the job growth in the entire country, which added 98,000 jobs last month. The state is huge, but it only accounts for about 11.5% of the country’s employees, which means that it is punching above its weight.

“We get beaten up for being a high-cost and high-tax state … but we have been outperforming many states,” said Robert Kleinhenz, an economist at Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles consulting firm.

California alone was responsible for 16% of the country’s growth from 2014 to 2016, according to Kleinhenz’s analysis.

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