California: Wretched Unemployment Gets Upbeat Reporting
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In California, scribblers are doing the happy dance over the latest unemployment news, because the rate of joblessness reached the “lowest level since December 2008.” Oh, huzzah!

Meanwhile, in Realityville, the state still has the worst unemployment rate in the nation — 9.6 percent — which California happens to share with Nevada and Mississippi for the month of February. But 9.6 percent is slightly less horrible than recent times, so the press is unduly positive.

True-blue California has had a particularly tough recovery from the great recession because of high taxes, crushing regulations on business and the taxpayer costs of immigration, legal and illegal.

The open-borders, big-welfare model of society doesn’t work, as California demonstrates. Even so, the Democrats who run the place see no reason to change. They want more Democrats, so they support amnesty, even though it’s a habit the state can ill afford.

Fiscal sanity is not promoted by the local press, which cheerfully whitewashes terrible conditions, as in the following:

State unemployment rate hits lowest level since December 2008, 41,200 jobs added, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, March 29, 2013

California’s unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level since December 2008 and 41,200 jobs were added, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.

The state’s jobless rate for February was 9.6 percent, down from 9.8 percent the previous month and 10.8 percent a year earlier. California has added a total of 725,100 jobs since the recovery began in February 2010.

“After a long recession and housing crisis in which the state lagged the nation in job growth, California is once again one of the nation’s job growth leaders,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto. “Are things better than a year ago? The answer is yes. We are on the right track, finally. We are growing faster than the nation but we still have a ways to go. ”

February’s growth was strong enough to push the number of unemployed residents below 1.8 million for the first time since January 2009 and the economy is gaining momentum across the state, Levy said.

“Southern California is now a full participant in the recovery,” he said.

Los Angeles County added 39,000 jobs in February – a sharp contrast from the 81,000 that were lost in January – and the county’s unemployment rate dipped to 10.3 percent. That was down from 10.4 percent in January and 11.4 percent a year ago.

Nonfarm employment in Los Angeles County rose by 2.3 percent, or 89,400 jobs, between February 2012 and February 2013. That made for the largest annual gain since a 2.4 percent increase in August.

The Inland Empire posted a more dramatic decline in unemployment with its jobless rate falling to 10.8 percent in February from 11.5 percent the previous month and 12.6 percent a year earlier. The two-county region added 2,900 jobs during the month and 27,500 year over year – a 2.4 percent gain. February’s gains were particularly welcome in light of the 19,400 jobs lost in January.

Chris Thornberg, a founding partner with Beacon Economics in Los Angeles, said rising employment and falling unemployment rates offer a positive sign.

“The labor force is expanding on a year-over-year basis, which means that unemployment is dropping not because of people leaving the labor force but because of job creation,” he said.

Thornberg also sought to put January’s more dismal numbers in perspective.

“We have a recession every single year,” he said. “From the fourth quarter to the first quarter we always see an enormous drop in business activity … there’s about a 5 percent drop in the GDP. We just don’t think of it as a recession because we’re all used to it. ”

The layoffs that occur after the Christmas rush of holiday shopping, combined with the retooling of businesses as they move into the new year, create a natural slowdown, Thornberg said.

Zippy Toyz Inc., a North Hollywood business that makes everything from hula hoops and rubber-band guns to jump ropes, is holding its own, despite a still challenging economy, according to owner Gary Brown.

“It’s been a roller coaster because a lot of our customers are mom-and-pop businesses in tourist areas on the East Coast, and they’ve been hit by hurricanes and the economy in general,” he said. “They don’t have as much money to spend. Our business is not exactly growing, but it’s not shrinking either. ”

Zippy operates two factories in China and additional facilities in Wisconsin and New Jersey.

“We’re not hiring right now because the demand just isn’t there to do it,” Brown said.

Los Angeles County’s biggest employment boost for February came in the information sector, which added 16,600 jobs. Motion picture and sound recording accounted for 15,700 of those gains.

Professional and business services, which includes such professions as architects, tax preparers, engineers and technical consulting, boosted its payrolls by 10,500 jobs. Additional gains were seen in education and health services (up 6,700), leisure and hospitality (up 5,300), government (up 5,200), financial activities (up 1,500) and manufacturing (up 500).

Trade, transportation and utilities posted the biggest decline with the loss of 6,000 jobs. Construction was also off by 900 jobs.

The Inland Empire’s strongest job gains were in educational and health services, which added 2,200 jobs. That was followed by professional and business services (up 1,700) and construction (up 1,300).

The biggest month-over-month losses occurred in trade, transportation and utilities, which lost 3,100 jobs. The bulk of that decline came in retail trade, which lost 3,000 jobs.
February’s gain of 2,900 jobs was especially welcome in light of the 19,400 jobs the region lost in January.

Unemployment rates fell significantly in some Southland communities, including Baldwin Park, which dropped to 12.8 percent in February from 13.6 percent the previous month. Inglewood’s jobless rate dropped to 12.9 percent in February from 13.6 percent the previous month, and Rialto’s fell to 13.8 percent compared with 14.8 percent in January.

“Things are getting better,” said Arthur Monreal, a business services supervisor with the Southeast Social Services Funding Authority in Santa Fe Springs. SASSFA offers services that help get people back to work. “In our area we see a lot of manufacturing companies that are hiring right now,” he said. “But it’s really hiring in general, from manufacturing to clerical to retail. There’s a lot of positive movement going on. ”

Cerritos Community College offers programs that help manufacturing workers upgrade their skills to be more in line with today’s growing technology.

“We offer different types of manufacturing programs in areas like machining, plastics/composites, welding and automotive,” said Bellegran Gomez, director of the school’s community advancement department. The participants pay the state’s per-unit tuition rate of $45, but some companies have tuition reimbursement or the classes will be subsidized. ”

Gomez said the program also offers customized, on-site training at an employee’s place of work.

Thornberg said California’s economy is headed in the right direction, although some factors could throw a wrench in the works.

“There’s a lot of political instability here, in Asia and in the Middle East,” he said. “But I continue to be relatively bullish on the economy. ”

Unemployment rates fell in 22 U.S. states in February compared with January. The Labor Department noted Friday that unemployment rates rose in 12 states and were unchanged in 16.

The nation’s jobless rate slid to a four-year low of 7.7 percent in February, down from 7.9 percent in January. U.S. employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month since November, nearly double the average from last spring.

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