CA Unemployment Rate at 7.7 Percent

October 17, 2008 9:42:29 PM PDT
California's jobless rate held steady at 7.7 percent in September, remaining for a second month at its highest level since March 1996, according to the latest state figures released Friday.

The free-fall in job losses related to the housing crisis have slowed somewhat. While it's still bad there, another industry is getting worse.

"The biggest hits we're seeing now is in retail trade, consumer-related industries. I think what we're seeing is consumer tightening their belts," said Loree Levy from the California Employment Development Department.

And that's bad news for the 1.4 million Californians crowding unemployment offices looking for work. After his non-profit's funding was cut this summer, mental health counselor Nicholas Losito was hoping a holiday job was going to tide him over.

"I even got desperate and made an application to Costco too. But I don't know if I'll ever hear from them," said unemployed Californian Nicholas Losito.

Retailers are usually gearing up for the big holiday shopping season about now, but sales projections show people will be pinching pennies during this rocky economy.

"Retailers are going to lower their expectations for Christmas sales and therefore will not be hiring as many temporary workers as they might have otherwise," said Bill Hauck from the California Business Roundtable.

Optimists say the jobless rate remaining steady for two straight months is good news.

The new unemployment data does not reflect this month's global financial crisis. Many experts are predicting the jobless rate will be higher for October.

David Walker is the former U.S. Comptroller General who kept his eye on the economy for the feds the past ten years. He doesn't like the unemployment numbers he's seeing.

"I would expect for them to go up somewhat more. I think we are in a recession," said Walker.

Though the R-word is not official, California's unemployment rate climbed to nearly 10 percent during the early 90's recession.


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