State Jobless Rate Falls Below 10%

The monthly numbers out of Washington tell one story. The monthly data from the state Employment Development Department tell another. This month’s tale was encouraging: the jobless rate for the state of California finally dipped under 10% to 9.8% for November, the first time we have fallen below 10% in four years.

The surge – or fall-off – is partially attributable to a hiring flurry coinciding with the holidays.

We’ll do our standard good news/but don’t get too excited news.

Positives first: California seems to be following the nation which is also experiencing a drop in the unemployment rate (7.7% at last count). Since the recovery began in February of 2010, California has gained 564,100 new jobs. The number of unemployed people in California is 1,805,000 – down by 43,000 since October , 285,000 fewer than it was in November of 2011. Construction, trade, transportation and utilities, information, financial activities and leisure and hospitality were all categories that reported job gains.

Approximately 391.870 Californians were receiving unemployment benefits in November compared to 453,448 in October and 536,294 in November 2011.

Looking locally, of the 4,855,000-member labor force in Los Angeles County,  an estimated 4,377,000 are employed and 478,000 are unemployed for an unemployment rate of 9.8% That rate is somewhere in the middle compared to other counties in the state. Neighboring Orange County, for example which has less than half of L.A. County’s labor force is at 7% while Ventura County (with 1/10th the labor force of Los Angeles County) is at 8.6%. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are at 11.5% and 11% unemployment respectively.

And if you plan to move north and east to the central part of the state, you'd best have a job waiting for you. Kern County is at 12.4%, Fresno County is 14.4%. In Imperial County, near the Arizona and Mexico border, 20,600 of the county’s 77,300 labor force are unemployed: 26.6%.

The state labor force  - those who are employed or looking for jobs – grew by 34,100 in November, yet the state lost jobs. The Los Angeles Times chalks this up, in some measure, to a growing number of independent contractors and sole proprietors.

The January numbers  - which we won't see until February - could paint a very different picture once those who found seasonal holiday employment go off the books and potentially back onto the unemployment ranks. And, sounding a dirge that is anything but seasonal, more than 400,000 Californians could lose their unemployment benefits by the end of this week if the President and Congress don’t take action.

Review and provide your own take on California’s employment and jobless numbers here.