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California Jobless Rate Remains Steady At 9.8 Percent

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SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — State officials say California’s jobless rate remained at 9.8 percent in December, the same rate as in November.

The Employment Development Department said Friday that 1.8 million Californians were unemployed in December, slightly below the previous month but down by 255,000 since December of 2011.

The unemployment rate then was 11.2 percent.

The department said construction, information, and educational and health services fields showed the biggest job gains between November and December.

Economist Steven Levy says the monthly numbers are volatile right now, but the state has made important gains as its economy continues to rebound. California’s unemployment rate fell below 10 percent in November for the first time in nearly four years.

California’s job growth has slightly outpaced national gains but remained the third highest in the nation.

Unemployment rates fell in less than half of U.S. states last month, as steady but slow hiring is making only gradual improvement in the job market.

The Labor Department said Friday that rates fell in 22 states in December and rose in 16. They were unchanged in 12.

The department’s monthly report also shows that steady hiring nationwide in the past two years has lowered the unemployment rate in many parts of the country. The rate is now below 7 percent in 25 states. And some of the states hardest hit in the recession have seen solid gains.

Nevada’s unemployment rate, the highest in the nation, plummeted 0.6 percentage points last month to 10.2 percent. Rhode Island’s rate, also 10.2 percent, fell from 10.4 percent in November.

A year ago, Nevada reported an unemployment rate of 13 percent. Its 2.8 percentage point drop in 2012 was the biggest in the nation.

Much of that decline stems from a smaller labor force. Many of those in Nevada who were out of work have given up looking for jobs or have left the state. People are only counted as unemployed if they are actively looking for work. Nevada’s workforce fell nearly 2 percent last year.

But some of the unemployed have found jobs. In the past year, the state has gained nearly 20,000 jobs.

Nationwide, the rate remained at 7.8 percent in December. Employers added 155,000 jobs last month, nearly matching the average of 153,000 in 2012 and 2011. That’s just enough to slowly reduce the unemployment rate, which declined 0.7 percentage points nationwide last year.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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