California unemployment rate sinks to 4.7% in May; Hollywood shows signs of life

California businesses added a net 17,600 new jobs in May, dropping the unemployment rate to 4.7%, according to data released Friday by the state’s Employment Development Department.

The jobless rate tied a record low reached in November 2000, the agency said.”This is positive news for the state of California in terms of its pace as a steady rebound from sluggish growth,” said Dave Smith, an economist at the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business and Management.

The report follows a disappointing April, when the state lost jobs for the first time in several months. The May unemployment rate dropped from 4.8% in April, but it still hovers above the national rate of 4.3%.“That’s to be expected. We were hit much harder by the recession and so we had a much longer way to go in terms of recovery,” Smith said.

For the second month in a row, the state economy’s year-over-year growth was slower in May than the overall U.S. economy.

Nationally, jobs grew by 1.6% since last May, compared with 1.5% in California. The state was lifted by the information sector and government employers, which posted a combined gain of 21,900 jobs.

Last month’s losers included leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services, which cut 11,400 jobs in total. Manufacturing and mining operations have eliminated 10,600 people from their payrolls over the year.

More Los Angeles County residents joined the workforce in May, and employers were ready for them. The county added a net 20,300 jobs in May, more than the uptick in the state as a whole, meaning the rest of the state lost jobs overall. The county had weathered a rough April, when it lost 7,300 jobs.

Last month, 11,000 new workers entered the local labor market — i.e., they got a job or started looking for one — a sign of their confidence that businesses are still hiring. The county’s jobless rate ticked lower, to 4.4%, from 4.5% in April.

Leisure and hospitality was the most impressive sector last month, posting an increase of 6,600 jobs. Food and accommodation businesses did the most hiring within that sector.

Motion picture and sound recording — the Hollywood contingent — had a surprisingly good month, adding 4,600 jobs in the county. The sector had been lagging and remains the worst performing industry over the last 12 months.

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