• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

CA gains jobs in construction, temp industries

December 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There are thousands more new jobs in California. That could be a sign that record unemployment figures will be heading back down. There is a glimmer of hope in the latest unemployment report for California. The new figures could be a sign that better times are ahead. For the first time in nearly three years, California's dismal construction sector added 1,200 jobs last in November.

The biggest job gains, though, were in professional services, helped along by 8,000 jobs in the temporary-help industry.

"We're finding that some of our clients are overwhelmed by the amount of work that they have, given that they've streamlined their permanent staff. So they're bringing on temporary and contingent workers," said Sandy Stenhouse, Ultimate Staffing.

That uptick helped the unemployment rate, in part, drop slightly. In October, it was the highest on modern record at 12.5 percent. That fell last month to 12.3 percent. A year ago, it was 8.3 percent.

While that dip could suggest the recession is bottoming out, the state warns the jobless numbers do not reflect the underemployed or discouraged workers.

The unemployment rate is actually higher if they're counted.

"When you add in some of those workers who are working part-time or dropped out of the labor force, it is more significant -- maybe 20 percent," said Loree Levy, Calif. Employment Development Dept.

That's why you won't find anyone looking for work excited just yet at the smaller 12.3 percent unemployment rate. After all, job losses are still occurring.

"When it gets down to about 8.5 percent, then I think there'll be reason to celebrate," Jeff Kistle, who is unemployed.

But temporary workers think the numbers falling is a good indicator of better things to come.

Historically, companies hire a "temp" before committing them to a permanent job. Stacey Napior found that to be true.

"I do have good news: I'm getting hired on full-time in January. I've been here for three months as a temp, and everything's working out well," said Napior.

California has seen a 12.3 percent jobless rate for three out of the last four months, which could mean stabilization is happening. Still unknown, though: When will job growth outpace job loss?