California's long, slow climb back from the depths of the Great Recession continues. That's the story told by monthly unemployment data released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and state Employment Development Department.
In its press release on the monthly jobless data, the EDD said California gained 24,200 jobs during June and that unemployment fell to 7.4 percent from 7.6 percent in May and 9 percent a year earlier.
The June figure is the lowest monthly unemployment rate in six years, though it's still far above the national jobless rate of 6.1 percent.
Unemployment rates for all nine Bay Area counties were almost all well below the overall state rate for June:
Alameda: 5.8 percent
Contra Costa: 6 percent
Marin: 4 percent
Napa: 4.7 percent
San Francisco: 4.5 percent
San Mateo: 4.2 percent
Santa Clara: 5.4 percent
Solano: 6.7 percent
Sonoma: 5.3 percent
Imperial County, in the state's southeastern corner, is California's perennial leader in unemployment. Its jobless rate for June was 22 percent.
As the Los Angeles Times notes, the number of people working in California has crossed a historic threshold:
More than 15,472,000 people were on nonfarm payrolls in June, surpassing the pre-recession employment peak of 15,449,000 in July 2007. ...
... Although California has now recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, economists caution that it is more of a symbolic milestone. As the state's population grows, more people are entering the workforce.
In July 2007, for instance, the state's unemployment was far lower -- at 5.4 percent.
"It may have some psychological effect, but it's an economically meaningless benchmark," said Heidi Schierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
About 1.4 million people, not counting those who have given up on finding a job, remain unemployed in California. And the only states with higher unemployment rates than California are Rhode Island, Mississippi, Nevada and Michigan
The EDD adds this snapshot of how the labor force and individual employment sectors have fared over the last year:
In a year-over-year comparison (June 2013 to June 2014), nonfarm payroll employment in California increased by 356,400 jobs (up 2.4 percent).
Nine categories (mining and logging; construction; trade, transportation and utilities; information; professional and business services; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government) posted job gains over the year, adding 369,200 jobs.
Educational and health services posted the largest gains on a numerical basis, adding 103,400 jobs (up 4.5 percent). Information posted the largest gains on a percentage basis, up 5.1 percent (adding 22,800 jobs).
Two categories (manufacturing and financial activities) posted job declines over the year, down 12,800 jobs. Financial activities posted the largest declines on both a numerical and percentage basis, down 8,400 jobs (a 1.1 percent decrease).