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California Jobless Rate Soars in December

California's unemployment rate jumped to 9.3 percent in December, capping a tumultuous year of massive job losses and a housing slump that has struck most of the country. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.
The jobless rate announced today by the state Employment Development Department represents a jump from the 8.4 percent figure in November 2008.

The department says the unemployment rate in San Diego County rose to 7.4 percent last month.
Excluding farmworkers, California lost 78,200 jobs in December as employers sliced payrolls to deal with the slowing economy.
Stephen Levy, a senior economist for the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy says the state unemployment rate hasn't been at this level since January 1994, when the state was coming out of its recession in the early part of that decade.

Levy says California, like the nation, is in the midst of a terrible and deepening recession.

It's not surprising to learn that the California economy also is falling off a cliff.  We lost 150,000 jobs in the last two months of the year. And the unemployment rate at 9.3% is a little higher than we might have thought. But everyone really agreed that we're in for another probably nine months or so of continuing job losses and rising unemployment. It's a very, very disappointing picture.

The national unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December.

About 1.7 million Californians were looking for work last month - up by 166,000 since November and up 653,000 since December 2007.

Some 785,200 were laid off, while 125,300 chose to leave their job. The rest were either temporarily employed or new job seekers.

The construction sector, hit hard by the housing slump and foreclosures, accounted for the most job cuts over the past year- 92,600 positions, a 10.8 percent annual drop.

California labor leaders said the skyrocketing job losses should persuade Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers to expand the state's unemployment insurance system and provide benefits to seasonal and new workers.

Ed Joyce,  KPBS News.


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