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Orange County’s economy added 3,500 jobs in March, when the unemployment rate dipped to 5.8% from 5.9% the month prior and 6.4% a year earlier.
OC now has 1,472,000 jobs, according to the state Employment Development Department.
The professional and business services sector added 1,600 jobs, for a total of 271,000. The sector has grown nearly 4% over the past year and accounts for 18% of OC’s total work force.
Construction companies made 1,400 hires, bringing the sector-total to 83,400. About 86% of last month’s increase was in specialty trade contractors, with smaller gains coming from building construction. Employment in construction has grown by more than 12% year-over-year, the largest jump among local business sectors for the period.
Employers in educational and health services also added 1,400 jobs. The sector has 187,700 employees now, up 3.4% from a year earlier.
Manufacturing companies made 600 hires and combined for a total of 158,000 employees, about flat from a year ago.
The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 1,500 jobs last month. It has 250,700 jobs overall, up about 1% from last year.
Financial services firms cut 1,100 jobs. Real estate leasing accounted for about half of the decrease. The financial sector was the only industry as of March that had fewer jobs than a year earlier. It was down about 3%, at a total of 108,900 jobs.
California’s jobless rate was 8.4%, down from 8.5% in February and 9.4% a year ago.
The unemployment rate nationwide was 6.8%, versus 7% in February and 7.6% last year.