As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, August 21, 2009

A California Economy In Free Fall

Whether it's the continued foreclosure crisis, the impact of state budget cuts or the cumulative effect of depressed consumer spending, it's now extremely clear that the state's employment picture shows no sign of bottoming out, reaching an all-time high in the post-war period.

California's unemployment rate took an unexpected leap in July, reaching a post-Word War II high of 11.9%. The increase contrasts with the national rate, which declined slightly over the same period, and reflects ongoing weakness in the state's battered construction and financial services industries.

The state lost a net 35,800 jobs last month, more than any other state, the U.S. Labor Department said today. It has lost 760,200 jobs over the last year.

Every category of nonfarm jobs in the state except education and health services experienced year-over-year losses. The construction sector was the hardest hit, shedding 18.6% of its jobs. Manufacturing jobs fell 8.7% from the same time last year.

Job loss did slow relative to the previous two months. But I don't think anybody believes that 11.9% is a floor. Los Angeles, where the jobless rate jumped 0.7% in just a month, is one of the worst big cities to find a job in America. The city has 15,000 homeless veterans. And areas of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire are in far worse shape. It's basically a depression in those parts.

And we are just starting to add a round of painful state budget cuts to increase the economic shortfall. Whether it's closing parks that provide economic benefits, or dropping or cutting aid to 100,000 IHSS recipients, or wiping out the entire domestic violence budget, the cuts will not only force the poor and infirm to slip through the cracks and cause mass suffering and even death, but the economic impact will be profound. Caregivers will lose their jobs. Relatives will shift their schedules to care for their families. Productivity will reduce. It's just a plain fact that lowering public spending during a deep recession will negatively impact the economy. Consumers aren't spending, companies aren't trading and businesses aren't investing. Government is the spender of last resort. And that spending has been slashed.

I honestly don't know where the bottom is.

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