Job-fair

California added 44,300 jobs in November, helping push the unemployment rate down to 8.5% from 8.7% the month before. Above, job seekers meet with company representatives at an employment fair in Van Nuys. (Frederic J. Brown /AFP/Getty Images / October 24, 2013)

California's economy showed renewed signs of strength last month when employers added the most jobs since October 2012, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

Employers created a net 44,300 jobs in November, led by a surge in retail hiring, typical of the busy holiday shopping season, state employment data show.

The robust hiring was broad-based across several sectors, including construction and manufacturing, and helped push the state's unemployment rate down to 8.5% from 8.7% in October.

"It's a pretty good report," said Esmael Adibi, director of Chapman University's A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research. "This is the best level of job creation in a year."

Monthly job creation in California has averaged just under 20,000 over the last year, and economists feared that the October government shutdown had put a damper on consumer confidence in recent months. Some were concerned that the economic recovery was slowing down.

Recent economic signs, however, have been positive. On Friday, for instance, a key indicator showed that consumer spending was stronger than previously thought and partly caused an upward revision to the country's third-quarter economic growth.

The U.S. gross domestic product, the total value of goods and services produced, was revised to an annual growth rate of 4.1%, up from the previous 3.6%.

"The fact that consumers are coming back and spending is good news," Adibi said. "There's enough oomph in the recovery that it will continue."

Friday's jobs data show that seven industries added jobs last month, led by the trade, transportation and utilities sector, adding a combined 32,500 jobs last month.

Retail and wholesale trade collectively expanded by 26,700 jobs, state data show.

Construction and manufacturing — two key California industries — also posted strong job gains in November.

Construction, aided by the housing recovery and demand for multi-unit housing, added 6,600 jobs. The manufacturing industry expanded by 6,000 jobs. 

"Employment gains are broadening," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo. "The November report indicates that … we're not only seeing steady progress on the employment front, but we are also beginning to create higher-paying jobs as well."

Four industries shed jobs last month, however. The largest decline was in the financial activities sectors, which lost 4,900 jobs. Economists said that drop probably was the result of layoffs in the mortgage industry as fewer homeowners seek to refinance their homes.

Government payrolls shrank by 3,600 jobs, and the health and education services industry lost 1,400 jobs.

The state also reported that October's job gains were revised downward to 30,100 from a previous estimate of 39,800.

Over the year, California payrolls expanded by 1.6%, adding a net 226,200 jobs since November 2012.

The improvement in the labor market has some job seekers like Gabriel Estrada, 19, hopeful that their fortune might soon turn around.

Estrada, who lives in Compton, was laid off from a warehouse job in mid-October. He said he is looking for another entry-level job. So far, he's had no luck.

"I'm confident sooner or later something will come my way," Estrada said. "I'm not expecting to find something overnight."