California jobless rate slightly below 12 percent

May 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
For more than a year and a half, it didn't seem like California could get out of the 12 percent doldrums. But finally, there has been a breakthrough. The unemployment rate for April dipped to 11.9 percent, a one-tenth drop from March, when the jobless number stood at 12 percent. A year ago, it was much worse at 12.4 percent.

The state gained 8,900 jobs; anemic, but not bad, considering where it has been during the Great Recession.

"Still that's job gain and much different story we were talking about just a year ago when we had job losses of half a million jobs," Calif. Employment Development Department spokesperson Loree Levy said.

As much as state leaders try to put a positive spin on numbers, more than two million people are still out of work. One-third of them are like retired military veteran James Reed, who has not held a job for a year or more. So breaking the 12 percent barrier is not that encouraging to the unemployed truck driver.

"No, not to me. Maybe on a national level it might be encouraging, but in this area, I'm still struggling," Reed said.

The scores still struggling explains why lines are still long at job fairs, where people might have better luck finding a job now that more companies are hiring.

"What we're trying to do is bring employers, who we know have job openings, but may not know these wonderful people, who have this experience and these skills, are out there looking for a job," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said.

The leisure and hospitality sector posted the most job gains, but government suffered the most losses as deficits continue to plague budgets.

Still, an 11.9 percent unemployment rate means more and more Californians are collecting paychecks. Andre Richardson joins those ranks having just received an offer.

"Six months was really, really stressful and consuming, but I made it," Richardson said.

Employment officials expect the downward trend to continue in the coming months. The next milestone that will turn their heads will be single-digit territory.

Load Comments