California unemployment stays flat; tourism & construction job gains

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Los Angeles posted a record number of visitors with 41.4 million, topping 2011’s record. (Photo Credit: Gloria de Leon)

California job creation is slowing, and the state’s unemployment rate for December was 9.8 percent, the same as in November. One fairly bright spot is the long suffering construction industry which added another 4,100 jobs in the last month. Probably more than any sector, the construction industry suffered the largest employment declines in the last few years. Estimates put job losses in that sector at 700,000 since the recession hit four years ago.

While California’s rate remained the same (and higher than the national average), 22 other states saw their unemployment rates decline last month. Our neighbor Nevada, which has the dubious distinction of having the highest unemployment rate of any state in the nation for the past 34 months, saw a significant decline from 10.8 percent to 10.2 percent. That now ties them for the highest rate with Rhode Island.

For 2012, the California economy grew 225,000 jobs, more than any other state.  As we have learned, California’s employment varies greatly from region to region. In the nine county San Francisco Bay Area, a robust 91,000 jobs were added. Tourism and info services led the way. Speaking of tourism, Los Angeles County had a very good year, with over 41 million visitors to LA County which was 2.5 percent more than 2011 total. Here’s the LA Times story on it.

The California Economic Summit has identified workforce preparation as on the seven Signature Initiatives that is being worked on to increase job creation and improve California’s ability to compete in the global economy.

Double Dipping at PERS?

While thousands of Californians look for work, some employees of the state’s giant pension, CalPERS, apparently can hold down more than one job. The Sacramento Bee reports on the story and quote CalPERS officials saying the practice is legal and suggesting other departments, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Social Services, the state prison and parole system and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, may have done the same.

City of Sacramento Easing Permit Rules

While state employees are one big sector of the Sacramento economy, they aren’t the only sector. Sacramento city officials are unveiling a pilot program that is designed to make permitting easier and faster for some minor construction jobs. If the program works, it is something that we would hope could spread to other cities. Streamlining the government regulatory process is pretty much on everyone’s list when they are asked how to improve the state’s economy.


Ed Coghlan

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