LOS ANGELES (AP) — California’s unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in February, continuing a slight downward trend but remaining higher than the nation’s jobless rate as a whole, state figures indicated Friday.

The state added 39,900 nonfarm payroll jobs, according to a business survey cited by the state Employment Development Department.

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A smaller federal survey estimated nearly 18 million Californians held jobs last month, an increase of 62,000 from January, the state agency reported.

Just over 1 million Californians were unemployed, a decrease of 36,000 over the month and a dip of nearly 207,000 compared with February of last year.

The unemployment rate generally has been falling for months except for a slight increase in December to 5.8 percent.

The state has added some 2 million jobs since it began to recover from the recession in February 2010, when the unemployment rate was at a recession-era high of 12.4 percent.

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However, February’s unemployment figure of 5.5 percent was still higher than the U.S. rate of 4.9 percent, which was unchanged from January.

Construction and four other work categories added nearly 52,000 jobs over February. Leisure and hospitality posted the largest increase, with 18,300 jobs.

A loss of 12,000 jobs was reported in four categories, including government and a combination of trade, transportation and utilities.

The Employment Development Department said 388,417 people received regular unemployment insurance benefits in February, compared with more than 410,000 a month earlier. About 42,000 people filed new claims for unemployment insurance.

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