California’s unemployment rate edged lower in April to 11%, the first decline in two and a half years, according to the California Employment Development Department.

The jobless rate fell from 11.2% in March, which was the highest on record. The rate is up from 6.6% a year ago and remains well above the national rate of 8.9% for April. The Golden State’s unemployment rate had not fallen since September 2006, when it touched 4.8%, its low for the last business cycle.

The number of unemployed Californians rose to 2.1 million in April from 1.2 million a year ago.

The state continued to shed payroll jobs in April. Non-farm payrolls fell 63,700 to 14.4 million. California has lost 706,700 jobs over the past year, 4.7% of its total. All industry groups shed jobs over the past year except for educational and health services. In April, three industry groups — natural resources and mining, other services, and government — eked out gains in employment.

The steepest losses have been in construction, where more than 18% of workers have lost their jobs over the past year, and manufacturing, where 8% of workers lost jobs.

The state’s jobless rate was able to fall, despite continuing payroll job losses, because the payroll numbers are based on a survey of business establishments while the unemployment numbers are based on a survey of households. The household survey showed an increase of 42,000 jobs in April, while the establishment survey showed a decrease of 63,700.

It is not uncommon for two surveys — which are generally consistent over longer time frames — to give conflicting signals over a short timeframe like a single month.

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