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Not only does California have more than 2 million unemployed workers, but nearly half of them have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, according to new data assembled by the state Department of Employment Development.

"Between May 2007 and February 2011, the number of people who were jobless 27 weeks or more in California rose an astounding 620 percent," says the EDD report.

Those who are called "long-term unemployed" grew from 15.9 percent of the jobless population in late 2007 to 46.8 percent last March, remaining over 46 percent in December.

"The rapid rise in long-term unemployment can be directly tied to the collapse of the housing bubble in California," the report continues. "This event had dramatic effects on the construction and finance industries and on the duration of unemployment among workers displaced from these industries."

It notes that housing construction permits reached a peak of 20,554 in September 2005, then plummeted to 2,418 in January 2009.

Long-term unemployment knows no gender or ethnic boundaries, although Latinos -- who were heavily engaged in construction -- were hit somewhat harder than non-Latino workers. Among all workers, those middle-aged and older have fared worse than those younger, perhaps reflecting their heavy involvement in construction trades.


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