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California's jobless rate dips to 5.2 percent, 9 year low

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point in nine years as it continued a steady decline last month, the Employment Development Department reported Friday.

The jobless rate fell to 5.2 percent in May, down a tenth of a percentage point from April.

The rate was last this low in May 2007, before the Great Recession.

"There are less and less unemployed individuals in California and fortunately more and more job opportunities," said department spokeswoman Loree Levy.

California's unemployment is still higher than the national rate, which was 4.7 percent in May. But the state's jobless rate exceeded 12 percent for more than a year during the height of the economic downturn.

More than 2.2 million jobs have been created since the recovery began in February 2010, the department said, including more than 15,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month.

That was a smaller increase than April's revised gain of 70,000 jobs.

There were 16.4 million nonfarm jobs in California in May, up 2.2 million since the recovery began in February 2010.

The number of unemployed dropped below 1 million for the first time since August 2007, the 67th consecutive monthly decline. Unemployment topped 2.2 million people at the peak of the recession.

There were nearly 43,000 new unemployment insurance claims last month, down nearly 4,000 from April.

Professional and business services and educational and health services saw the strongest jobs growth.

The information, financial activities, other services, and government sectors also saw gains, for a combined increase of more than 32,000 jobs.

Manufacturing had the largest job loss.

Mining and logging, construction, trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality also were down, for a combined loss of more than 17,000 jobs.

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