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Job Growth Ramps Back Up in California

After losing 32,000 jobs in January, nonfarm employment rebounded in February, adding 58,800 jobs in February, according to the Wells Fargo Economics Group. February's increase reflected a 2.3 percent growth over the past year, creating a net gain of 345,600 jobs.

Three industries led the way in job creation, according to the Group's report. Construction employment increased 2.2 percent during the month, with a net gain of 14,100 jobs. Residential and commercial construction, particularly in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, helped fuel the spike in job growth.

Construction payrolls increased by 6.1 percent.

The tech sector in California remains strong, with professional, scientific, and technical services adding 10,300 jobs in February, pushing employment up 4.1 percent from last year. "Hiring also continues to ramp up in wholesale trade, reflecting growth in international trade and online retailing," the report said.

Retail, however, did not improve for the month of February, losing another 200 jobs to add to the 14,400 lost jobs in January. The Wells Fargo Economics Group attributes the loss of retail jobs to a disappointing holiday shopping season.

Overall, California's unemployment rate continues to trend lower, reported at 8.0 percent for the month. The rate has fallen for seven consecutive months, narrowing the gap relative to the nation from 1.7 point to just 1.3 points for February.

The report found, "Because the drop in the unemployment rate nationally and in California has been accompanied by a decline in the labor force participation rate, the sharp drop in the unemployment rate has been met with a great deal of skepticism."

Regardless, the group believes there are encouraging signs for California. The civilian labor force has picked up considerably, rising by 35,700 people in February, outpacing a 23,700 gain in civilian employment. The group notes, "We suspect that the improvement in the construction sector is pulling some folks back into the labor market that were discouraged when fewer high-paying job opportunities were available."

About Author: Colin Robins

Colin Robins is the online editor for DSNews.com. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts from the University of Texas, Dallas. Additionally, he contributes to the MReport, DS News' sister site.

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