California’s Unemployment Rate Falls Below 5 Percent for First Time Since 2006

Francisco Martinez, a nonunion sheet metal worker, works at a construction project in downtown Los Angeles in an undated photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

California piled on 19,300 jobs in March, and its unemployment rate dropped to 4.9% — the first time the state’s jobless rate fell below 5% since December 2006.

The state outpaced the nation in employment growth, expanding at a rate of 2.1% year-over-year, compared with 1.5% nationwide. California’s jobless rate still hovered above the national unemployment rate of 4.5%.

The construction industry carried the state in March, boosting payrolls by 18,900, according to figures released Friday by the state’s Employment Development Department. The economy’s information sector — which includes tech businesses in Silicon Valley — faltered last month, cutting its 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.

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The California jobless rate fell below 5 percent for the first time since 2006, according to the Employment Development Department. (Credit: Los Angeles Times graphics)