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Calif. unemployment highest in 12 years

August 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
California's unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent in July, the highest it has been in 12 years. The slowdown cost nearly 15,000 workers their jobs. However, that 7.3 percent does not include the 10,000 state workers who were laid off from the California governor's executive order.

The number of jobs related to the housing industry continues to dwindle, adding to that unemployment rate.

Construction worker Mel Sanchez has only had one month of work for the entire year.

"It's depressing, you know," said Sanchez. "I called my dispatcher and I kind of asked her, 'Do you think there will be anything for this whole season?' And she said, 'No.'"

The state believes more and more people are crowding unemployment offices because other sectors are also now laying off workers, particularly in consumer-related services.

"The high gas prices, the high food prices ... What we're seeing is a big impact in leisure and hospitality and retail/trade. That's what's really starting to impact the rest of the economy," said Loree Levy, California Employment Development Department.

The Southland saw a wide swing of the jobless rate. Los Angeles County was just over 8 percent, while Orange County was below the statewide rate at 5.7 percent. Riverside County had the highest unemployment at 9.3 percent. San Bernardino County was not far behind at 8.5 percent. Finally, Ventura County had a 6.7-percent unemployment rate.

Lawmakers are well aware of the rising unemployment rate. While both parties have plans, none of them creates jobs immediately.

Democrats think lots of jobs can be created in the Inland Empire and Central Valley by looking to green technology.

"The Silicon Valley is known for their venture capital, for their entrepreneurship, for starting companies. But they don't have factories there," said Assemblyman Juan Arambula (D-Jobs Committee Chairman).

Republicans want to offer incentives for companies to stay in California.

"The corporations are saying, 'You want a job, you come with us.' And we've got to make sure we stop both in this state. We can't do it overnight, unfortunately," said Assemblyman Mike Villines (R-Minority Leader).

However, the wait is too long for unemployed workers like Sanchez.

"Jump ship. Move to another career, another profession," said Sanchez

Sanchez is looking into healthcare, one of the few sectors that saw job growth.

 

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