Calif. Jobless Rate Still Higher Than Rest Of US After Slight Dip In February

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A new unemployment report from Sacramento on Friday signaled a slow but steady improvement in the Southern California job market — at least for now.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports that while private firms have stepped up hiring, there could be more layoffs ahead in the public sector.

The state Employment Development Department announced its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Los Angeles County dropped to 11.8 percent in January, down from a revised 12 percent in December.

And while the jobless rate for California is still 2.5 percent higher than the national rate, at least some of the ranks of the long-term unemployed are getting work.

“I was out for like a year, and then I got lucky with this company and it finally picked up, ’cause it’s rough out there,” said one woman who works in the health care industry. “You just have to keep looking…it’s getting better.”

Pedro Vasquez, who has a temporary teaching job at Hamilton High School, fears that despite the signs of optimism, the LAUSD may soon announce another round of layoffs.

“I’m one of those laid off from previous time and right now I have a temporary assignment, so if it looks like they’re hiring more I hope they head toward the teachers’ sector,” said Vasquez.

A total of 579,000 people were unemployed in January in Los Angeles County, which has a labor force of about 4.92 million, while statewide 2.02 million people were out of work.

Brad Kemp with Beacon Economics told KNX 1070 that he expects California to mirror the improving national trend.

“We’ve outpaced the job growth for the nation in 2011 and I think we’re going to continue doing that,” Kemp said.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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