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Golden State becomes tarnished with jobless at 12 percent

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 22nd, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Things just got a little bit more desperate in the Golden State. After clinging to a jobless rate of 11.8 percent in June, California's jobless rate now stands at an even 12 percent. In fact, California is now only second to its bordering state of Nevada in terms of idled workers. Nevada is currently under the scourge of 12.9 percent unemployment.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - California's jobless rate is well above the U.S. average of 9.1 percent, according to the state's Employment Development Department.

New hires for the month of July were especially brutal. California employers added just 4,500 new jobs last month, a steep drop from the revised 30,400 jobs added in June.

"The California economy is treading water. It's growing but not fast enough to create net new jobs," Scott Anderson, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities says.

"The recent knock in consumer and business confidence could be enough to tip California back into recession."

California, analysts say is performing worse than the nation largely because of its real estate hangover. When the property bubble burst, it wiped out 1.3 million jobs, many of them in construction, real estate and mortgage-related financial services, and those sectors haven't recovered as of yet.

While San Diego's bio-sciences companies and technology firms in the Bay Area remain strong and healthy, their growth hasn't been strong enough to pull California out of its slump.

In addition, the public sector is a major employer in California, which in the past has acted as bulwark during tough times. Deep budget cuts have forced many local governments to shed workers this time around.

California's economic well-being is largely tied to the health of the U.S. economy, whose growth has slowed as the year has progressed. Economists say there's no quick fix that California leaders can use to turn the unemployment situation around.

"There is nothing much they can do," economist Esmael Adibi of Chapman University in Orange says. "The state generally can make the business climate healthy and not impose too much regulation and zoning and taxes and in the short term, control spending."

More than 2.1 million Californians remain unemployed and one-third of them have been jobless for a year or more.

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