Jobless rate steady; disturbing trends seen

By Gary Gentile The Associated Press
Monday November 11, 2002

LOS ANGELES – California’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.4 percent in October from September’s revised figure as the state produced a net gain of 19,800 jobs, the Employment Development Department reported. 

The rate still remained above the 5.9 percent recorded in September 2001. The state’s unemployment rate has remained fairly steady over the past six months. 

It also was higher than the national average. Last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the jobless rate climbed to 5.7 percent in August. 

About 1,122,000 Californians were unemployed last month, a decline of 7,000 from last month, but up by 90,000 compared with October last year. 

Of those, 655,300 were laid off, 98,100 left their jobs voluntarily and the rest were either re-entering the labor market or joining it for the first time, the EDD said Friday. 

“It is positive that we did gain 19,800 jobs because across the nation there is a loss of 5,000 jobs,” said Michael Bernick, director of the EDD. “We ran against the national trend.” 

Most job growth was in government, specifically in education as schools reopened after the summer break. 

Government jobs increased by 70,700 statewide in October, which was higher than expected. 

The largest employment decline was in the manufacturing sector, which lost 26,100 positions. 

“We continue to see some very disturbing trends,” said Brad Williams, chief economist with the Legislative Analyst’s Office. “The high-paying industries continue to lose jobs in the state. Manufacturers continue to be squeezed by soft business spending and slumping exports.” 

A bright spot in the report was that unemployment continued to decrease in Los Angeles County. 

The unemployment rate for October was 6.1 percent, down from 6.7 percent in September and 6.8 percent in August. 

But Williams said the drop may have more to do with population shifts and an increase in government jobs and does not reflect a rise in private sector employment, particularly in the aerospace industry.