California added 32,500 jobs in January, ending a two-month losing streak and providing hope that the economic recovery has arrived. But the figures released today by the state Employment Development Department also show that the recession has been far tougher on California than previously believed.
In its annual recalculation of the health of last year's data, the EDD reported that the state lost 338,000 more jobs than previously reported.
That's a much more dramatic revision than economists were expecting and pushes 2009's total job loss to more than 8000,000 for the state. "The bottom's at an even lower place" than first believed, said economist Jeff Michael of the University of the Pacific.
January's numbers, though, showed some reason for optimism. While the unemployment rate actually rose two-tenths of a point, to 12.5 percent, economists put much more stock in the addition of 32,500 payroll jobs. The payroll number is based on a larger and more reliable survey.
The January figures suggest the state "is scraping the bottom," said economist Sung Won Sohn of California State University's Channel Islands campus in Camarillo.
Howard Roth, the state's chief economist, noted that eight of 11 major sectors of the economy added jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis, including the troubled construction industry.
Sohn said the Bay Area and coastal Southern California are rebounding nicely, but the Central Valley and Inland Empire are lagging. The pickup in Asia's economy is translating into good news for California's major ports, he added.
Local unemployment figures won't be released until next week, officials said.
Earlier today, U.S. officials released national unemployment figures for February. The national economy lost 36,000 jobs during February, although the impact of the East Coast's blizzards were largely the cause. The national unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent.