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California Unemployment: Golden State Has Highest Unemployment Rate In Country

03/19/2013 03:30 pm ET

In the month of January, California was tied with Rhode Island for having the highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of any state in the nation at 9.8 percent, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Public Policy Institute of California Economist Sarah Bohn explained that the Golden State was one of the hardest hit by the recession and has a large share of young residents just entering the workforce--a group that tends to have a comparatively high unemployment rate.

But there's still hope. California's jobless rate has dropped significantly -- by 1.2 percent -- over the past year. Only Nevada, Florida and Idaho saw more drastic declines. The state has added over a quarter of a million new jobs since January 2012 and was second only to Texas in the total job growth.

"Over the past year, our employment situation has improved a lot," Bohn told The Huffington Post. "Our jobs are growing faster than in the country overall."

The professional and business services sector, like much of Silicon Valley's tech economy, has been the primary engine driving job growth, while government jobs have been declining and growth in construction, which was hit particularly hard by the collapse of the housing bubble, still continues to lag.

"We've been on a trajectory for a more tech-focused economy for a while, but now we're seeing it in a more clear relief," noted Bohn.

While construction may not be driving California's economic recovery, it has gradually improved after being decimated by the recession. Seven of the ten regions that experienced the most growth in real estate prices over the past year were in California, and that's led to more new home construction.

KPCC reports:

Nationally, construction added 28,000 jobs in January, so a quarter of those were in California. At this point, it's reasonable to expect that this trend will continue. Spring is typically a stronger season for real estate than winter, and throughout California, inventories of homes for sale are so limited that sales have been falling, after recovering for much of 2012.

At 3.3 percent, North Dakota's fracking-fueled economy reported the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Nationally, the unemployment rate sits at a four-year low of 7.7 percent.

California's unemployment rate has refused to budge since it dipped below ten percent last year. But some, like UCLA economist Jerry Nickelsburg, are hopeful it will soon continue to tick downward.

"We are expecting growth to pick up in the latter part of the year and in 2014, and the unemployment rate to come down at that point," he told the the Los Angeles Times.

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