Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

September 18, 2009
California unemployment: 12.2 percent

The state's unemployment rate rose three-tenths of a point in August, to 12.2 percent, state officials said today.

Sacramento-area unemployment hit 12 percent, up slightly from a revised 11.9 percent the month before, the state Employment Development Department said.

But there was some good news: Payroll jobs fell statewide by only 12,300, suggesting an easing of the recession. That was only one third as many jobs as were lost in July, and the lowest toll in more than a year.

The Sacramento region lost 1,700 jobs during the month, or about one-fourth the job loss recorded in July.

"This moderation (in job loss) looks to me like we're going to have job growth pretty quickly here in California," said Howard Roth, chief economist at the state Department of Finance.

But he added that the August jobs report got a seasonal boost of sorts: With the school year starting so early in many districts, education payrolls swelled more than usual.

And even as layoffs taper off, the unemployment rate will keep going up for a while as Californians resume looking for work, he said.

"I think we're on the road to recovery," said Stephen Levy of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. But he acknowledged that continued job loss, however small, will leave many Californians skeptical that the situation is improving. "There's a reason people don't think the recession is ending," he said.

Michael Bernick, a former director of the EDD, said that although layoffs are slowing, "there's been no uptick in terms of hiring."  

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