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UCLA forecast: Calif. lags behind recovery

March 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
California is seeing some signs of economic recovery, but the job market is lagging far behind. That's the report from the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast.

Gerti Qose is an unemployed construction worker looking for work at the Verdugo Jobs Center. He's part of California's double-digit unemployment rate, which is forecast to stay in double digits for two more years.

He is one of an estimated 350,000 unemployed Californians who the UCLA Anderson School feels probably won't be able to find work in their old jobs.

"Those jobs are just not coming back, so they need to find other activities, other kinds of work, and that just takes a while," said Nickelsburg.

At UCLA a grim new Anderson Forecast for unemployment was released Thursday. The economy has been improving, but California unemployment is now at 12.4 percent, and is expected to remain in double digits until 2013.

And even then, it's expected to run about 1 percent above the national unemployment rate.

Home construction is still sluggish to non-existent. The Anderson School says that's one of the primary reasons the recovery in California is so sluggish.

"We were expecting the beginnings of some new residential construction and we have yet to see that," said Nickelsburg.

UCLA forecasts that education, health care and technology will drive the recovery from this recession, a recovery yet to be experienced by California.

It's especially tough for older workers like David Parker, a forklift operator and warehouse worker out of a job nearly two years.

"It doesn't matter how much experience you have, they'd rather take somebody who doesn't have experience so they can train them than somebody who has experience," said Parker. "They're going for someone cheaper."

California's unemployment rate is projected to continue a while at the same rate. According to Nickelsburg, it's a problem of skills. People like construction workers have a skills mismatch that is going to take a while to overcome.