California's unemployment rate fell slightly in Nov.

December 18, 2009 6:39:58 PM PST
California's unemployment rate fell slightly last month, but the jobs crisis is far from over. The rate now stands at 12.3 percent -- down two tenths. But not counted in these numbers are people who've had their wages cut, are working part time, been furloughed or have just simply given up looking.

For the first time in nearly three years, California's dismal construction sector added 1,200 jobs last month. The biggest job gains, though, were in professional services, helped along by the temporary help industry at 8,000 jobs statewide.

"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 from 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 and 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 under-employed 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 from the California Employment Development Department.

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," said unemployed worker Jeff Kistle.

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 and 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," she said.

California has seen a 12.3 percent jobless rate for three out of the last four months, which could mean things are stabilizing. Still unknown, though, when will job growth outpace job loss?


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