The state's unemployment rate was 12.5 percent in January, up from 12.3 percent in December, and much higher than the 9.7 percent rate in January 2009.
January's rate is tied for October 2009 as the highest unemployment rate since the department began record keeping in 1976.
According to a survey of businesses, California has 32,500 more nonfarm payroll jobs than it did in December.
However, the federal survey of California households, from which the unemployment rate is derived, showed that the number of Californians holding jobs decreased by about 18,000 from December to January.
Only one industry division, educational and health services, has posted job gains over the past year, adding 12,400 jobs for a 0.7 percent increase.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement today that the report shows the need to create jobs in the state.
"While I am encouraged by the news that over 32,000 jobs were added last month, today's employment data reinforces the immediate need to create jobs for out-of-work Californians," Schwarzenegger said.
"There are real people behind these statistics and they deserve real action by their elected officials," he said.
While the state unemployment rate rose over the course of January, the national unemployment rate dropped from 10.0 percent in December to 9.7 percent in January, according to the report.