SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) -- California's jobless rate dipped to 9.6 percent last month, the lowest in more than four years.
The state's Employment Development Department reported Friday that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since December 2008, signaling a continued improvement in the state economy.
The rate fell from 9.8 percent in January after falling below double digits this past winter.
The department reports nonfarm jobs increased by 41,200 during the month, bringing the number to 14.6 million. That's compared to only 4,200 jobs gained in January.
The survey found the greatest job gains came in construction, financial services and leisure and hospitality. Manufacturing, transportation and health services slipped over the month.
The number of people unemployed in California fell below 1.8 million in February. That's down from 2 million last February.
Unemployment rates in 22 U.S. states fell in February from January, signaling that hiring gains were benefiting many parts of the country.
The Labor Department said unemployment rates rose in 12 states and were unchanged in 16.
Nationally, unemployment slid to a four-year low of 7.7 percent in February, down from 7.9 percent in January. Since November, employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month, nearly double the average from last spring.
States hit hardest during the recession were showing improvement.
Florida's unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in February, down from 9 percent a year earlier. Nevada's rate, while tied with California and Mississippi for the highest among states at 9.6 percent, was down from 11.8 percent a year ago.
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