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Calif. unemployment rate hits 11.2 pct

April 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
California's unemployment rate climbed to 11.2 percent in March, according to new state figures. That's the highest rate since the government began keeping records in 1976. An 11.2 percent jobless rate translates to over 2 million Californians out of work.

The state lost more than 62,000 jobs in March alone, and has lost more than 637,000 jobs in the past year.

The unemployment rate grew from 10.6 percent in February, and is nearly 5 points higher than in March 2008.

California now has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country. Only two states - Michigan and Oregon - had higher rates in March.

Jack Kyser of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation predicts that the unemployment rate will keep climbing.

There's great uncertainty in finding employment in retail and in construction. Kyser says developers aren't starting construction in part because lenders are not lending, which drags out and adds to unemployment.

L.A. County's jobless rate is higher than the state's at 11.4 percent. The city of Los Angeles is higher still at 12.5 percent. Long Beach's jobless rate is 12.4 percent.

A recent job fair at Dodger Stadium had thousands of people lining up for 500 seasonal jobs. Some of these people said they'd been out of work a year.

Counties like Riverside and San Bernardino are especially hard hit with unemployment at 12.9 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.