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Unemployment Drops To 6.3 Percent, Lowest In 5 Years

The nation's economy added a robust 288,000 jobs in April, far more than forecast, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, its lowest level in five years, according to the Labor Department.

Local Unemployment Facts

The industry sectors with the most growth in San Diego are healthcare, technology, innovation and tourism.

"If your skill sets don't fit into those areas, we need to make them start to fit in,” Manpower executive officer Phil Blair said.

Blair said people looking for work need to get from behind the computer and network with potential employers at jobs fairs and informational meetings. Blair says talk of raising the minimum wage in San Diego could slow the increase in productivity a key economic driver.

“Let's not be naive, if the minimum wage goes up in the state, in the city, in the country, a number of people will lose their jobs,” Blair said.

The April unemployment figures for California and San Diego County are not yet out, but here is what they were in March, according to the California Employment Development Department:

• 8.1 percent in California, down 9.2 percent from March 2013.

• 6.9 percent in San Diego County.

The rate, which is the lowest since September 2008, was down from 6.7 percent in March.

Economists had forecast just 210,000 new jobs for the month, citing severe winter weather for the sluggish growth. April represents the largest burst of hiring in months. Figures for February and March were revised upward, giving an average for each of the 3 months of 238,000.

In its household survey, the Department said the number of people counted as unemployed fell by 733,000 to 9.8 million.

"We may be seeing an acceleration in job growth," Gus Faucher, senior economist with PNC Financial Services, Pittsburgh, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"It's sustainable to have a 200,000-plus job growth over the next 6 to 9 months," he says. "The drop in 800,000 in labor participation is concerning. I don't think that's a permanent event. We will see the workforce expand."

The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent in April.

Gains were seen in every major sector of the economy, with the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics says professional and business services were up by 75,000 positions, retail added 35,000 jobs, the food and beverage industry was up 33,000 jobs, and construction added 32,000. Health care grew by 19,000 and mining by 10,000.

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