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California unemployment: the causes and implications for the future

September 21, 2010
California's unemployment rate is now nearly 3% higher than the national rate. In August 2010 California’s unemployment rate was 12.4% compared to the national 9.6% unemployment rate. The state’s unemployment was this much above the national rate once before in the early 1990s as a result of the large loss of aerospace jobs. The state’s job losses, then as now, were far larger than the national job losses and the state’s recovery took longer. Moreover, the aerospace job losses were permanent, not cyclical losses. Still by 2000 and for several years thereafter California’s unemployment rate was near the national average. What are the causes of the current high unemployment rates in California and what does that mean for the near and medium term economic future?

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Unemployment rate declines even as state loses 27,000 jobs

July 16, 2010
California's unemployment rate dropped a tick in June to 12.3 percent from 12.4 percent the month before, even as the state lost 27,000 jobs, most of them laid-off temporary census workers. The private sector added about 1,300 jobs, according to the Employment Development Department.

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US Census is biggest source of new hiring in California

June 18, 2010
California unemployment dropped a tick in May to 12.4 percent from a revised 12.5 percent in April, even as thousands of people entered the workforce. But most of the new jobs created in the state the past two months have come from one source: the federal government's census. Private sector employment is stagnant, and construction, trade, transportation, finance, education and health care all reported job losses in May.

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An army of the involuntarily under-employed

May 26, 2010
The number of unemployed in California, the rate of unemployment, the average duration of employment: all of these indicators have risen dramatically since 2007. However, there is a less-known job indicator that also has risen dramatically and may have more to do with stalling a job recovery in California than any other: the number of workers involuntarily working part-time.

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California employment declines in February

March 26, 2010
California employment declined again in February, partially offsetting gains made in January. And the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 12.5 percent. The state lost about 20,400 jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January California added 32,500 jobs.

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On the line with unemployment

March 19, 2010
Go to your local unemployment office to get information about a claim and they will sit you at a bank of phones so you can call -- the unemployment agency. You will wait on hold, and wait and wait and wait, and then get a person on the other end who will hang up on you if you make one false move. If this sounds crazy to you, read HIlary Abramson's account of her Kafka-esque experience dealing with the EDD.

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California lost nearly 1 million jobs in 2009

March 5, 2010
California lost nearly a million jobs last year, a third more than previously believed, according to revised numbers released Friday by the Employment Development Department. For the year, employment was down by 902,000, the latest numbers show. In December alone, the state had about 340,000 fewer jobs than earlier estimates suggested.

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California loses 38,800 jobs

January 27, 2010
California released its employment report for December today, and the news was not good. The state lost a net of 38,000 more jobs at a time when some economists and state officials had hoped the economy and unemployment had bottomed out. Christopher Thornberg and Jon Haveman at Beacon Economics provide a monthly analysis of the employment report that I've always found helpful. Here is their synopsis.

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