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Newsom touts hot California economy ahead of midterms

The Golden State has now recovered nearly all the jobs lost during the pandemic.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California's jobless rate fell to 3.9% in September, leading Governor Gavin Newsom to tout a healthy economic recovery just before the midterms. 

Newsom’s office released a report Friday showing the state added jobs for the 12th consecutive month and has recovered 99.1% of the jobs lost to the Covid-19 pandemic. The unemployment rate fell 0.2% in September, adding to the slow but consistent drop of 2.5% since September 2021.

According to the state’s EDD report for September, the sectors with the biggest changes year over year include education and health services, adding 126,400 jobs thanks to strength in payroll changes within college, universities and professional schools. Leisure and hospitality added more than 153,000 jobs, thanks to special food services jobs like catering and food trucks coming back to life, and professional and business services adding 134,000 jobs since September 2021.

Government job losses by about 16,100 stemmed mostly from weakness in local government hiring outside of education, such as in reductions in administration and services hiring, the report noted.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates include Napa (2.6%) Placer, Sonoma, Sierra (2.5%), Marin (2.2%) and Santa Clara (2.1%).

But Central Valley counties continue to struggle with high unemployment rates, including Colusa (7%), Kings (5.8%), Kern (6.2%), Merced (6%) and Tulare (7.5%).

The state counted 294,085 people receiving unemployment insurance benefits in September, down from 310,212 people in August and 493,987 people in September 2021.

The governor has said he is committed bringing more economic relief for Californians, including through several bills signed in September to support workers and boost small businesses and entrepreneurship. He's also eyeing a windfall tax to penalize Big Oil companies for ramping up gasoline prices, which the Legislature will take up in a special session in December.

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