Calif. hits record unemployment rate


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That means California has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation behind only Michigan, Oregon and South Carolina. The state that is usually a job-creating machine incredibly lost more than 637,000 jobs in the last year with construction taking the biggest hit.

One year ago the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent. In February it crossed double-digit territory to 10.6 percent. Last month the number climbed even more to 11.2 percent. That means more than two million people in California are looking for work.

"We will likely see 12 percent unemployment before things start changing, which could be in the summer when the stimulus funds kick in," said UC Davis professor and economist Phil Martin.

At the employment development offices across California it is hard not to feel discouraged with those numbers.

"It's rough. Every day you look online. They say they're hiring but are they really?" asked Keyan Fallahi who is looking for a job.

Governor Schwarzenegger rallied with Central Valley farmers and workers who have no jobs because thousands of acres have not been planted. He says if Sacramento had solved California's water woes the jobless rate would not be so high.

"This is absolutely unacceptable. And, it is not just because of the world economy being down. It is self-inflicted wounds because we can't get our act together," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To help keep up with record demand for unemployment benefits, the Governor signed an emergency proclamation waiving the red tape at EDD so it can hire hundreds more workers to their call centers within two weeks.

"We think that bringing more people on to help us with the phone, combined with other efforts, will hopefully get to the point where people who actually need to talk to an agent for customized cases can actually do so," said Loree Levy with the California Employment Development Department.

There are six EDD call centers throughout the state ultimately needing 1100 people total in the coming months ahead. Those jobs pay between $16 and $24 an hour.

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