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California unemployment rate holds steady at 7.4 percent; business, household surveys conflict

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SACRAMENTO, California — California's unemployment rate held steady at 7.4 percent in July, but two surveys used to calculate the rate showed different results, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.

EDD said its survey of businesses in the state found an increase of about 27,700 jobs. But a federal survey of households used to calculate the unemployment rate found 31,000 fewer jobs in July than in June.

That leaves the state in a holding pattern, with the same jobless rate as June, although it improved from the 9 percent unemployment in July 2013.

Educational and health services reported the biggest July jobs increase in the survey of employers, adding 10,900 jobs. The largest decline was in construction, which reported 6,400 fewer jobs in July than a month earlier.

Michael Bernick, a former EDD director and a fellow at the Milken Institute economic think tank, said the two reports state officials use to measure employment sometimes conflict because they survey different groups.

But he said a gain of about 27,000 jobs in July is consistent with California's share of the national economy and reflects people re-entering the job market. The unemployment rate does not include people who have stopped looking for work.

"We've had steady growth since, really, February of 2010," Bernick said. "This continues the narrative and is pretty much in line with our share of the national economy."

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