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California jobless rate slides, but state adds just 8,500 new jobs

October 19, 2012|By Marc Lifsher
  • Job postings are more likely to be found in the private sector than the public sector; private businesses in California added jobs in September, while government shed jobs.
Job postings are more likely to be found in the private sector than the public… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

SACRAMENTO -- California's unemployment rate fell to 10.2% in September from 10.6% in August, the second-largest drop in the nation.

But just 8,500 net new jobs were created, according to the California Employment Development Department.

The two statistics show somewhat different monthly trends because the unemployment rate is based on a survey of households while the total employment number comes from a more accurate check of businesses.

The California results tracked national Department of Labor figures, released Oct. 5, that showed the national unemployment rate falling by three-tenths of a percentage point to 7.8% -- its lowest level in 3 1/2  years -- but only 114,000 net new jobs being created nationally.

Part of the discrepancy is likely due to long-term unemployed people no longer seeking new jobs; people being forced to work part-time when they seek full-time jobs; and others identifying themselves as "self-employed," though they have little income, experts said.

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Friday's California results are "really a reflection of the national unemployment number" with some softening of job-creation, said Dennis Meyers, principal economist for the California Department of Finance.

Business owners and executives are dealing with much uncertainty -- including the outcome of the presidential election, the European financial crisis and how a lame-duck Congress deals with the budget deficit -- that could affect hiring plans, Meyers said.

In addition, public-sector hiring was down by 6,400 in September while private-sector employers brought on 14,900 new workers. An expected uptick in holiday, seasonal workers hasn't yet showed up in statistics, Meyers said.

Month-to-month employment numbers are notoriously volatile, economists said, noting that statistics for longer periods tend to be more accurate as the results fall into line over time.

For example, the Golden State's unemployment rate is down significantly from September a year ago, when it was 11.7%. A total of 262,000 net new jobs were posted for the past 12 months, according to a survey of businesses.

California employment in the past year grew by 4.7% in construction, 6% in information, 4.1% in leisure and hospitality and 3.1% in educational and health services. The biggest drop was 1.7% for government, while manufacturing fell by just under 1%.

California had the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation in September at 10.2%, behind Nevada at 11.8% and Rhode Island at 10.5%.

Unemployment in the Los Angeles metropolitan area was 10.6% in September, down from a revised 11% in August, according to the Employment Development Department.


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