Unemployment rate unexpectedly rises to 8.7% in July

California’s jobless rate inched higher in July, ending five months of falling rates, according to the state Employment Development Department.

The jobless rate increased to 8.7% in July, compared to 8.5% in June and 10.6% in July 2012. However, the state added 38,100 jobs in July, and gained 807,700 positions since the recovery started in February 2010.

Seven categories – including manufacturing, transportation, information, professional services, and education and health services – combined to add almost 50,000 jobs last month. Professional services added the most, with 15,000 positions.

Construction and government cut about 11,400 jobs in July, with construction – a bright area in recent months – eliminating 7,300 positions.

The Bay Area continues to enjoy the lowest jobless rates, with Marin at 5.3% in July. San Mateo and San Francisco followed at 5.7% and 5.9%, respectively.

Despite a better economy and job creation, more than half of the state’s 58 counties reported double-digit jobless rates in July. Agriculture-dependent Imperial County had the highest rate at 26.1%. The county has 19,800 job-seekers, more than double the number in larger Marin County.


Federal extension benefits to end for 100,000 Californians on Aug. 11

California’s hard-hit jobless received another dose of bad news –they will lose their federal extension unemployment benefits — some in the next few weeks and all by the end of the year.

A declining jobless rate and improving economy has prompted the move, according to the state Employment Development Department.

About 100,000 people will be affected by the decision in the next few weeks. At least 275,000 more will lose assistance by the end of the year.

Cash-strapped California, which enacted budget cuts and furloughs in recent years, is faring much better during the first half of the fiscal year.
Cash-strapped California, which enacted budget cuts and furloughs in recent years, is faring much better during the first half of the fiscal year.

More than 750,000 people are collecting jobless benefits in California, with more than half receiving funds from the federal extension program.

California’s three-month jobless rate average has dropped below 9%, the minimum level required for the final 10 weeks of the Tier 4 federal extension, according to federal guidelines.

Anyone who files for the Tier 4 extension on or after Aug. 11 is not eligible for the benefits. Those who apply and are eligible for Tier 4 benefits before Aug. 11 will receive funds until Dec. 28.

Tier 4 benefits assist jobless residents who exhausted their 26-week, state-provided benefits and the first three tiers of the federal extension.

“The EDD knows just how vitally important unemployment benefits can be to out-of-work Californians and their families,” says EDD Chief Deputy Director Sharon Hilliard. “We want to make sure that our customers have as warning as possible about reduced benefits so they can plan their personal finances accordingly.”

All federal extension benefits will end Dec. 29. The federal effort provided unemployment assistance for up to 99 weeks.


Construction helps hammer down jobless rate to lowest level since October 2008

California’s jobless rate dropped to 8.6% in May, the lowest level in almost five years – and the 10th-consecutive month of lower or unchanged rates.

The state’s jobless rate was 9.0% in April and 10.7% in May 2012, according to the Employment Development Department. It’s the lowest rate since October 2008.

California added 10,800 jobs in May, and 767,200 since the recovery started in February 2010.

About 1.61 million Californians were jobless last month – or at least collecting unemployment benefits – the fewest since November 2008, according to the closely watched monthly report.

The professional and businesses services category has added 73,400 jobs during the past year, the most among the seven categories with gains. Construction added 38,500 jobs, a 6.6% increase from a year ago, the largest percentage gain.

Manufacturing, once considered a bright point in the state’s anemic recovery, continues to struggle recently, losing 8,000 jobs during the past year.

Again, the Bay Area boasts the best job market, with Marin County at 4.5%, followed by San Mateo County at 4.9%. San Francisco and Napa counties reported jobless rates of 5.2% and 5.3%, respectively.

Agriculture-dependent Imperial County has the highest jobless rate in the sate at 22.8%.


UCLA Anderson Forecast: Modest economic growth

California’s economy will continue to improve during the next three years, benefiting from the much-improved housing market, according to a new report.

But job growth and personal income gains will be modest, at best, especially compared to the historic rate, according to the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

UCLA Anderson senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg says the jobless rate will dip to an average of 9.6% this year, before dropping to 8.4% and 7.2% during the next two years. Real personal income growth – a closely watched figure that greatly affects consumer spending – will improve 1.4% this year, and peak at 3.6% in 2014 before sliding to 3.3% in 2015.

California’s economic growth, which has been buoyed by exports, will likely mirror the national estimates of 1.9% this year before climbing to 2.8% and 3.1% in 2014 and 2015, respectively, according to UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist David Shulman.