California adds jobs in June
Employers in California added 28,800 jobs to payrolls in June, a surprisingly positive number amid a weak labor market nationally. The state's unemployment rate rose slightly, to 11.8%, from 11.7% the month before, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday morning.
California had lost 29,200 jobs in May, due in part to manufacturing sluggishness from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The addition of jobs this month, though a surprise, is one more sign of the fickle nature of this economic recovery, economists say.
"Its going to take a long time before we feel like this economy is functioning on all eight cylinders again," said Robert Dye, chief economist for Comerica Bank.
In contrast to California, the nation added just 18,000 net new jobs in June, and its unemployment rate rose for the third straight month, to 9.2%. The number of new people applying for unemployment benefits jumped this week to 418,000, the government said Thursday, and has remained above 400,000 for 15 straight weeks, a sign of sluggish hiring.
But Friday's job figures showed that some of the hardest-hit states performed well in June. Michigan added 18,000 jobs, and Minnesota, which was until recently embroiled in state budget issues, added 13,200.
California gained jobs in manufacturing, professional and business services, education and health services and leisure and hospitality. The construction sector in the state remained weak.
Economists say that there are still some potential land mines ahead that could hurt the fragile recovery. The price of oil, which rose briefly to $100 a barrel Thursday, could restrict consumer spending if it keeps rising. And massive layoffs are far from over: This week alone, companies such as Cisco Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Borders Group Inc. announced layoffs.
It will take some time before the job growth reaches all of the state's 2 million unemployed. Some workers, like Adrina Quintero, say they haven't noticed anything change for the better. Quintero, 24, lost her job at an immigration firm when the business closed in January. Now, she's been told she is overqualified for jobs in various industries. She spends her days recycling cans and searching the want ads, to no avail.
"I cant even find a job at a fast-food restaurant or get hired at Wal-Mart or Target," she said. "It's such a struggle."
-- Alana Semuels
Photo: Job seekers at a San Francisco event. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Map: Unemployment rates state-by-state, darkest gold indicates highest rates.