ORANGE COUNTY, CA-Although Orange County’s unemployment rate continues to decline, newly released research says the region slipped two notches in May from its previous rank as number three in California.

This new rank marks the first time in six months that the county has dropped from its number three position. The region now ranks behind San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Napa and Marin for the lowest unemployment rate in the state.

However, Orange County has also experienced a dip in its unemployment level, according to the May study published by the State of California Employment Development Department. The region’s unemployment rate has declined 0.2%, slipping from 3.8% in April 2002 to 3.6% in May 2002. In April, 60,000 people were unemployed and that number has dropped to 56,800 in May.

In addition, the county has once again reported a lower level of unemployment than the statewide average. The state’s overall unemployment rate is 5.9%, which is more than two percentage points higher than in Orange County.

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