California's unemployment rate dips to 11.9% as state adds 8,900 jobs
California’s unemployment rate ticked down to 11.9% in April after the state added 8,900 jobs, a relatively small number in a state still suffering from the Great Recession.
The job gains are disappointing in light of U.S. employment figures, released earlier this month, that showed that the nation gained 244,000 jobs in April. California should have about a tenth of those gains if it is keeping track with the national recovery. The state needs to add about 12,500 jobs a month just to keep up with new entrants to the labor force.
The unemployment rate in April 2010 was 12.4% and the state has added 144,200 jobs since then.
California still has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, after Nevada, at 12.5%, according to figures released Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Observers say the state's recovery is still unfolding in fits and starts.
“Its kind of a mixed bag. A lot of our regular customers have slowed down a little bit,” said Mara Klug, a regional vice president at staffing firm Adecco. As consumer confidence waned following the disaster in Japan, some companies slowed hiring, she said.
The state gained jobs in manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality. It lost jobs in construction and financial activities.
The unemployment rate in Los Angeles fell to 12.1% in April, from 12.3% the month before.
The job market is still tough for people like Venah Ervin of Inglewood, even though he has a degree in chemistry and a wealth of experience. He’s nearly at the end of his savings, and finds he has to be choosy about interviews because gas prices are so high. At the end of his rope, he’s thinking about getting training as a security guard and abandoning his search for a job as a lab tech.
“I want a permanent job,” he said. “But it’s really rough out there.”
-- Alana Semuels
Photo: A help wanted sign is seen posted in the window of a Middle Eastern restaurant on March 25 in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images