California jobless rate dips to 6.9 percent

California’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in January as the number of people unemployed dropped by 31,000 from the previous month, according to the California Employment Development Department.

A spokesman for the department said the reason for the monthly drop is strictly due to an increase in the number of people employed and the drop in the number of unemployed. The number of non-farm payroll jobs increased by 67,300 in January while the number of unemployed dropped by 31,000.

Labor force participation has been steady for the past five months, department spokesman Kevin Callori said. A change in labor force participation can cause the unemployment rate to change as people move into or out of the labor force. In December the unemployment rate was 7.1, a decline from 8.1 percent last January.

During the past year, California has added nearly 500,000 non-farm jobs. Year-over-year, that’s an increase of 3.2 percent. Nationwide, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent last month, down from 5.7 percent in January.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said she is pleased to see the nation’s unemployment rate drop, but she said the recovery isn’t helping everyone. The unemployment rate among Blacks is down 1.6 percent in the past year, but it remains more than twice that of Caucasians.

About four and a half percent of Caucasians are out of work, compared to 10.4 percent of Blacks. The unemployment rate among Hispanics is 6.6 percent. Lee wants Congress to renew unemployment insurance for people still out of work, raise the minimum wage while pushing for a living wage for full-time workers and America to invest in infrastructure that will deliver good-paying jobs.

The California economy has added 1,806,700 jobs since the recovery from The Great Recession began. During the past year, the number of unemployed residents has dropped 194,000 to 1,316,000, according to a data from a federal survey of households and released by the Employment Development Department.