California’s unemployment rate in December was the same as the month before, with nearly an eighth of the state’s eligible workers remaining jobless, according to the latest figures from the state Employment Development Department.

The state’s unemployment rate was 12.4 percent in December, the same as in November, but much higher than the 8.7 percent rate in December 2008.

The rate is just below October’s 12.5 percent, which was the highest since the department began record keeping in 1976.

According to a survey of businesses, California has 38,800 less nonfarm payroll jobs than it did in November.

However, the federal survey of California households, from which the unemployment rate is derived, showed that the rate remained essentially unchanged over the course of December.

Only one industry division, educational and health services, has posted job gains over the past year, adding 22,800 jobs for a 1.3 percent increase.

Among the nine Bay Area counties, Solano County had the highest unemployment rate at 11.9 percent.

Marin County had the lowest unemployment rate in the Bay Area at 7.8 percent. That number was the lowest among all counties in California, according to the department.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement today that he would continue to fight to add jobs for the state’s unemployed workers.

“Boosting employment remains the single most important challenge facing our country and our state. That’s why I announced the California Jobs Initiative as part of my budget and that’s why my budget fully funds education and holds the line on taxation,” Schwarzenegger said.

“Keeping California cost-competitive and preparing our citizens for the 21st century workforce are the keys to strengthening our economy. I look forward to partnering with the Legislature to implement this plan to boost employment, create jobs and stimulate our economy,” he said.

The national unemployment rate also remained unchanged in December, staying at 10.0 percent.

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