For the second straight month, California posted job gains in June as the unemployment rate slipped to 10.7 percent and the number of unemployed Californians fell below 2 million, the Employment Development Department reported Friday.
During the past two months, California added 84,200 jobs, accounting for "an astounding" 50 percent of the national job increases during those two months, said Steve Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.
The state unemployment rate was 10.8 percent in May and 11.9 percent a year ago. National unemployment was unchanged at 8.2 percent in June.
Ventura County didn't fare quite as well. The county's unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.6 percent in May to 9.2 percent in June but is down from 10.3 percent a year ago.
Area job losses were largest in education and health services, government and retail.
The state surge is impressive, considering that the national and world economies are under strain from the European recession, slower consumer spending and foreseeable fiscal tightening, Levy said.
"On the other hand, the idea that California is a lagging economy being passed by in comparison to other states can now, hopefully, be put to rest," he said. "Tech, trade, tourism, a strong agricultural sector and the stirrings of a construction recovery give hope for the near and long-term future."
Job gains were led by the coastal tech sectors in the San Jose metro area, San Francisco's metropolitan area, Orange County and San Diego County.
The county's employment numbers for June were not alarming to Mark Schniepp, director of the California Economic Forecast, who said the unemployment rate typically rises in June while many students look for jobs.
"When compared to the 10.2 percent rate that occurred in June of 2011, it is clear that the long-term decline remains in place," he said.
Economists at the California Economic Forecast expect Ventura County to see a slowly healing labor market for the rest of the year.
While the job market is showing signs of recovery, out-of-work Californians continue to struggle to find work in what still appears to be an "employer's market."
Lisa Martinez, of Oxnard, said some employers have set unrealistic qualifications, like "one that said you have to be an upstanding member of a church" and another she encountered that sought people who speak Korean and Chinese.
Three years ago, Martinez lost her bookkeeping job of 30 years at a Ventura company that closed. She has been looking for work ever since.
"You'd be surprised by the things people look for when you're looking for work," she said. "If they'd open up their parameters a little bit, I think they'd be able to employ an awful lot of people."
Martinez attended a job fair Thursday at the Ventura County Job & Career Center, where she said hundreds of people seemed to be applying for work.
"I don't see it getting any easier," she said of the job hunt.
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