Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Calif. unemployment rate hits 11.5 percent

Calif. unemployment rate hits 11.5 percent

By Nannette Miranda

Unemployment in California hits a grim record for the month of May -- rising to 11.5 percent and 69,000 more people join the jobless ranks.

The loss of another 69,000 jobs last month dealt a huge blow to California.

After the state saw the unemployment rates dip in April, it's back on the upward trend, hitting 11.5 percent for May, rising a half-percent from the month before.

A year ago, it was 6.8 percent.

Former coffee sales rep Launa Cornwell has exhausted all of her unemployment benefits and may be two months away from foreclosure.

"If I don't get a job soon, I'm going to lose everything I've worked for since I was in college," said Cornwell.

If there is any glimmer of hope from those dismal numbers, the State Employment Development Department says the job losses seem to have slowed.

"The job losses over the last three months were still significantly lower than we had the previous four months. So that's a good trend," said Loree Levy from the California Employment Development Department.

Over at the Capitol, state workers are protesting Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut their pay another five percent and layoff 5,000.

Ed Hass, who does I.T. projects for Corrections, got one of those pink slips.

"How's that going to solve the economy? We got too many unemployed people, and they want to make more unemployed? I don't get it," said Hass.

The UCLA Anderson Forecast earlier predicted 60,000 government jobs at all levels could be eliminated through the rest of this economic downturn, and that could push the jobless rate over 12 percent before things get better.

"We're going to grow more slowly than the rest of the U.S. in the initial part -- that's 2010. That's principally because of reduction in state and local government," said UCLA Senior Economist Jerry Nickelspurg, Ph.D.

In fact, the largest decline in the number of jobs last month happened in the government sector -- down more than 14,000 positions.

In the Bay Area, Santa Clara County has the highest unemployment rate, at just over 11 percent, as Silicon Valley's tech industry continues to take a beating.

The lowest unemployment is in Marin County where the rate is 7.5 percent.

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