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Calif. Unemployment Holds Steady At 12.6 Percent

California's unemployment rate held steady last month at 12.6 percent, despite an increase in national unemployment, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

Non-farm payroll jobs increased by 14,200 in April, marking a fourth straight month of gains. Since Jan. 1, the state has added more than 56,000 new jobs.

About 2.3 million Californians remain unemployed. That's down 7,000 from March but still higher than a year ago, when the jobless rate was 11 percent.

Five of the 11 job sectors saw growth last month: mining and logging, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, government, and other services.

The government sector saw the biggest boost, with an additional 14,000 jobs. However, most of those were related to the 2010 census and therefore temporary, said Kevin Callori, a spokesman for the Employment Development Department.

"The overall good news is that job losses are definitely slowing and people are showing optimism and getting back into the job market," he said. "Now it's just a matter of the job market picking up to meet that expectation."

Howard Roth, chief economist for the state Department of Finance, said the latest figures were nothing to celebrate. At 12.6 percent, the state's unemployment remains at a record high.

"The California labor market did not improve much in April," he said. "We're doing better in the sense that we added another month of gains. But there were earlier months where the gains were bigger, and you want to see more of that."

The construction, manufacturing, information, financial activities, educational and health services, and trade, transportation and utilities sectors lost jobs last month.

National unemployment figures rose from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent in April.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was encouraged by the state job gains last month, but California still has a long way to go and must encourage private sector hiring.

Schwarzenegger praised Thursday's announcement by Toyota Motors Corp. and Tesla Motors Inc. that the companies were teaming up to develop and build electric cars at a recently shuttered auto plant in Fremont. The governor said this partnership could create more than 1,000 jobs.