California Unemployment Tops 10%

I wonder if it’s still the world’s fifth-largest economy now. And this surely means Friday’s national employment report will be a lulu. From The Wall Street Journal:

FEBRUARY 28, 2009

California’s Jobless Rate Soars to 10.1%

California’s unemployment rate jumped to 10.1% in January, the highest since 1983, as employers in the nation’s most-populous state cut 79,000 jobs in the month.

Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday declared a state of emergency to address California’s third-straight year of drought, ordering officials to take steps to reduce urban water consumption and to expedite water transfers throughout the state.

The jobless rate, released Friday by the state’s Employment Development Department, is up from a revised figure of 8.7% for December 2008. The national rate for January was 7.6%.

There were 3.3% fewer jobs in California than a year earlier. The report said there were 1,863,000 unemployed Californians, up 754,000 from January 2008.

The first half of 2009 will continue “to be pretty ugly,” said Howard Roth, the chief economist for the state’s finance department. “Hopefully, the second half of the year will be better, and maybe we get some moderate [job] growth in 2010.”

The state is threatening to pass the 11% jobless rate of late 1982, the highest since the Great Depression. “All we need is another month like this,” Mr. Roth said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a statement that economic-stimulus measures in the budget he signed last week will create jobs. “The number of Californians without jobs and a means to provide for their families is a sobering reminder that there is nothing more important than getting California’s economy back on track,” he said.

Write to Stu Woo at

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