Although foreclosures are spread throughout the state, Southern California has seen a sharper drop in home values than the Bay Area, dragged down by steep declines in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The Southland's median home price was $275,000 in September, down 10.9% from September 2008, according to data released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. The Bay Area median declined 8.8% over the same period to $365,000.
Although unemployment rose in Los Angeles County, jobless rates in nearby counties declined. Orange County's rate was 9.4% in September, down from a revised 9.8% in August. Hard-hit Riverside and San Bernardino counties posted a rate of 14.2%, down from 14.6%.
Ventura County's unemployment rate was 11%, down from a revised 11.3% in August. San Diego's sank to 10.2% from 10.6%.
All five metro divisions in the Bay Area saw their unemployment rates decrease from August. The jobless rates in Napa County, at 8.7%, and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City Metro Division, at 9.2%, are among the lowest in the state.
Although prospects differ for the state's two biggest metropolitan areas, the job numbers indicate to economist Christopher Thornberg that California has reached the bottom of the downward spiral that started last year.
"We're starting to see stability in the labor market," he said. "The free fall has come to an end."
But it still might feel like a free fall for the state's 2.2 million unemployed, wherever they reside.
Berkeley resident Sherisa Notmeyer was informed a month ago that she was being downsized from her job in desktop support at a medical manufacturing company. She's been looking for work but is finding that there are a lot of candidates for very few positions. Job hunting is discouraging in an employer's market, she said.
"It's not as bad as it was during the whole dot-com crash," she said. "But it's not very good either."