Nevada, California jobless rates climb above 10 percent | SierraSun.com

Nevada, California jobless rates climb above 10 percent

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO ” California’s jobless rate climbed to 10.5 percent in February, the second month of double-digit unemployment.

The figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department reflect a severe economic climate last seen in California a quarter-century ago. The rate tops the national rate of 8.1 percent.

“This is really disappointing but not surprising given the national numbers for February. It’s horrible here and in nearly every other state,” said Stephen Levy, senior economist at the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

“We’ll see better times when and if the federal policies put in place begin to take effect. But that’s not likely for another few months,” he said. “Until then, jobless and unemployment will continue to rise.”

Sharp declines in construction, manufacturing, finance, trade, transportation, professional services, leisure, health and education are blamed for the losses over the past month. The construction industry alone shed nearly 31,000 jobs in the last month.

The agency said about 1.95 million Californians are unemployed ” up by 80,000 residents over the month. February’s unemployment rate was 10.1 percent. Since February last year, the state has lost more than 600,000 jobs, a 4 percent drop.

There was a glimmer of bright news in several industries. Information jobs were up 7,900 in February over the previous month. And the state added nearly 31,000 teaching and health services jobs since February 2008, a 1.8 percent increase.

The slight uptick in those sectors was dwarfed by the massive decline in most other industries.

The loss of 636,900 jobs since February 2008 was led by a drop of nearly 160,000 trade, transportation and utilities jobs, a 5.5 percent decline. Construction jobs dropped 18.5 percent for the year as the industry sloughed 155,000 jobs with the housing collapse.

California’s jobless rate increased from 6.2 percent in February 2008 as the housing bubble burst, leading to a collapse in the finance and credit markets and a deep national recession projected to last much of the year.

The number of unemployed in California grew by 824,000 since February 2008, the department said.

“It’s a very, very vicious cycle, but it is a cycle,” Levy said. “That doesn’t make it easier. The human tragedy is large and it’s not going to turn around very quickly.”

The pace of job losses accelerated last month, the department reported. The loss of 116,000 jobs in February was up from a revised figure of 76,600 lost jobs in January.

If there is good news, Levy said, it is that California is well positioned to take advantage of national and world trends. The new Obama administration is emphasizing science and green technology, while social networking, information sharing and technology appears to be a world trend, he said.

“People should not be thinking the Great Depression or the end of the ‘California Dream,'” Levy said. “All of the things that are growth sectors around the world are things we are proficient in. We are a center of trade and technology and tourism and talent ” the ‘T’s’ ” and that’s the way world is going ” not in 2009, but it’s a trend.”

For now, nearly 769,000 Californians were getting unemployment insurance benefits last month. That’s up from about 717,500 in January and 480,000 a year ago.

The pace of jobless benefit claims is accelerating as well.

More than 76,000 Californians sought benefits last month, up from 75,500 in January and about 49,000 a year ago.

In response, the department is now operating its call center phone lines from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. However, the department said the quickest way to apply for unemployment insurance benefits is online.

The last time California’s unemployment rate was over 10 percent was during a 12-month period that ended in June 1983.

CARSON CITY, Nev. ” Nevada’s unemployment rate rose to 10.1 percent in February, drawing closer to the state’s highest recorded rate of 10.7 percent in late 1982, according to a state report released Friday.

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation report shows the seasonally adjusted rate was up from 9.4 percent in January ” and also shows the state well above the national jobless rate of 8.1 percent in February. About 145,200 Nevadans were out of work while 1.2 million others held jobs .

A breakdown shows increases also occurred in the state’s population centers, including the Las Vegas area at 10.1 percent, up from 10 percent. In the Reno area, the rate hit 11.2 percent in February, up from 11 percent in December.

Bill Anderson, chief economist for DETR, said Nevada’s jobless rate has increased every month since the start of the national recession in December 2007, nearly doubling over that period.

“Since September, the economy has shed over 50,000 jobs, suggesting the economy decelerated markedly during the final months of 2008 into 2009,” Anderson added.

For the Las Vegas area, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 10.1 percent was based on total employment of 911,200 people and a jobless total of 102,500.

The Reno area’s 11.2 percent non-seasonally adjusted rate was based on total employment of 203,100 and a jobless total of 25,500.

Carson City-area unemployment increased from 11.1 percent to 11.3 percent between January and February. Employment in the area totaled about 26,300 and unemployment totaled about 3,400.

Unemployment in Elko and Eureka counties held steady at 6.4 percent. There were 26,700 people working in the area during February and about 1,800 without jobs.

A month-to-month breakdown of hiring statewide by specific industries showed casino-related leisure and hospitality hiring was down 1,000; hiring in professional business services was down 1,200; construction was down 500; manufacturing was down 200 and mining was down 100.

Government hiring was up 5,000, mainly due to an end to holiday and semester breaks in schools. Education-health services was up 1,000 and hiring in the financial activities sector was up 100. Information services hiring held steady.

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