California's unemployment rate in May soared to 6.8%, up six-tenths of a percentage point from April and a whopping 1.5 percentage points higher than it was a year ago, the California Employment Development Department reported today, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The jump roughly paralleled a half-percentage-point increase in the national unemployment rate, which increased to 5.5% in May as reported earlier.

The state's May unemployment rate was the fifth highest in the nation, behind Michigan, Rhode Island, Alabama and Mississippi.

The total number of unemployed people in California last month was 1.26 million, up 115,000 over the previous month and 300,000 higher than in May of 2007.

The report said California lost 10,900 jobs in May, most of them in construction.

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