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California may be recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and its official unemployment rate has dropped by a third, but by another federal measure of employment distress, the state is second only to Nevada.

The alternative number, known as U-6 in economic statistical circles, includes not only unemployment — the percentage of the labor force that's jobless — but "marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers."

In other words, it represents every worker whose aspirations are being thwarted by economic conditions.

By the U-6 measure, California's employment distress rate is 18.3 percent for the 12 months ending June 30, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. California's rate is second only to Nevada's 19 percent and four percentage points higher than the national rate of 14.3 percent.

California's U-6 rate is also more than twice as high as the state's 9.1 percent rate calculated by the BLS for 2006, the last year before the housing bubble burst, plunging the state into recession.

North Dakota, which is experiencing an oil boom, has the lowest rate of 6.2 percent. Texas, with whom California is often compared, has a U-6 rate of 11.6 percent.

PHOTO: Binders full of resources at the Employment Development Department office in Sacramento on Thursday February 14, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton


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