IE hit hard by ballooning unemployment

RIVERSIDE, Calif. While statewide unemployment has remained at a constant 12.3 percent, the combined unemployment rate for Riverside and San Bernardino counties jumped to 15.1 percent.

Riverside County alone went from 14.5 to 15.3 percent unemployment in the last month while Riverside hit 14.8 percent.

Worker Jeff Van Diepen, who has a job clearing brush in the San Bernardino Mountains as part of a program funded by federal stimulus dollars, feels lucky to be employed.

"Any work is good work. I'm enjoying myself and I like being up in the forest so it's a good job," he said.

But public sector jobs have been among the hardest hit in the Inland Empire. More than 17,000 government jobs disappeared last month, though the summer break at local and state education institutions accounted for some of those job losses.

Economist John Husing pointed out that the region was the epicenter of job growth during the boom.

"This area, believe it or not, was responsible for 42 percent of all of California's job creation from 2000 to the peak for the state in '07. If you want to know why the state is in trouble - look no further than the Inland Empire," he said.

He called the current recession a "checkmark recession" with a very steep dive and a very long, slow correction.

With the current difficulty of finding a new job, the hardship is only compounded by the newly instituted state furloughs. As of Friday, government workforce development centers, where people come to look for work, will be shut down one day a week until a new state budget is succesfully passed.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.